Body language on paper - the science behind graphology

You've got between 7 to 30 seconds to make a first impression, and if someone's spotted you from across a room the countdown is on.

Our ability to pick up on body language is instinctive, and the signals we send are 14 times more powerful than what we say.1 Handwriting is like body language on paper, and Carl Jung described it as a valid expression of the human psyche. It's a snapshot in time, a unique picture of who someone is in that moment, as if they are standing there ready to shake your hand...

Graphologists examine the writing holistically, considering hundreds of handwriting movements in an analysis.  The process begins with the first impression, much the same as when we meet someone for the first time, however handwriting gives away so much more by way of unconscious signals, and these are recorded on paper rather than in fleeting seconds. These can then be deciphered using centuries of research and symbolism that gives graphology a resonant truth that cannot be ignored. 

An example  

When a person invades your personal space, overstays their welcome, or needs constant company and attention, we get a sense of the attachment and closeness they desire. This is mirrored in their writing with letters close together and joined, close word spacing, and lines that go right to the edge of the page. On the other hand, a person who values privacy, and is emotionally independent will have greater distance between letters and words, and the writing will stand upright or with a left slant that holds back from social connection.     

Figure 1. Spacing between words. A Manual of Graphology by Eric Singer; drawings by Gertrude Elias

These simple explanations are only confirmed by a graphologist when supporting signs in the writing are also present, but they form a good starting point for understanding this complex science. It is the combination of features and the way they interact that gives a clear picture of the writer. Dominant features, or those immediately visible to the trained eye, hold significance as they form the basis of the personality, and identify dominant aspects of character. Outlined below are some possible features and their indications:

  • Very large writing - exuberant, larger than life, boastful
  • Very small writing - reclusive, privacy needs, meticulous
  • Writing with heavy pressure - determined, energetic, over-bearing (very heavy)
  • Writing with light pressure - delicate, lower energy reserves, sensitive
  • Right slanted writing - strong emotions, forward thinking, communicative
  • Left slanted writing - emotions bottled up, reserved, strong family ties
Figure 2. Left slant. A Manual of Graphology by Eric Singer; drawings by Gertrude Elias
Figure 3. Right slant. A Manual of Graphology by Eric Singer; drawings by Gertrude Elias

It's easy to imagine the large writer entering a room with plenty of gusto and confidence while the smaller writer sits by quietly. When large size, heavy pressure and a right slant come together in a sample, you have three features to confirm that this person's presence and opinion will not go unnoticed. Combinations of features identify the strength of characteristics and how they play out in daily life. 

Inner conflict 

Dominant features can combine to reveal opposing characteristics, and this is even more revealing. The graphologist's task when this occurs is to discover why the conflict exists, and what impact this has on the writer and those around them. Imagine a person who smiles and shakes your hand, only to talk about themselves for the next 15 minutes, and you've got someone who needs others but isn't particularly interested in them. Close examination of this person's writing would show why they need contact but resist emotional involvement, and the reasons behind their behaviour. 

While our gut reactions are certainly worth heeding when encountering others, a well constructed mask or image can be misleading. Graphology sees behind the persona, and a professional analysis will produce a portrait of how the person thinks and behaves over time. It's one thing to make a stunning first impression, but innate character traits will be apparent in the long run.

The consistent features in our writing will always give us away, and tell the truth about who we are. 

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