Skeptics and graphology

IF YOU DO a Google search of handwriting analysis on the internet, you will inevitably find a list of skeptic sites denouncing this discipline. The skeptics (boldly) say that graphology makes its own bold claims of being able to ‘predict’ what someone will do and how they will react under certain circumstances. This is nonsense.

Graphology does not predict anything. It is not a predictive tool. It is not a crystal ball or a fortune telling device. Any well-trained graphologist knows this. A handwriting analysis is an assessment of personality as it is in the here and now. It analyses handwriting characteristics and interprets these individual and clustered arrangement of signs giving psychological meaning to them.

Why do graphologists avoid making blanket predictions? Because they understand the simple law of physics that the future is open and that an infinite number of possibilities can exist based on an infinite number of choices. They also know that a person is involved in a never-ending cycle of development, which sometimes leads to growth, the acquisition of wisdom and change.

Nobody can predict with 100% authority what someone will do when crunch time hits, but an assessment of personality will provide those who would like to know with a practical guide of the character type of an individual. I say practical in the sense that personality is part concrete and part changeable elements that manifest in a 3-dimensional world. You can see it, hear it, touch it, and experience it.

What a graphologist studies is real. This is because handwriting is a composition of many organic influences: brain, mind, emotion, body, experience, education, culture. As a result, a graphologist who undergoes training at a reputable institution will receive education and training in many disciplines, thereby making a graphologist an interdisciplinary professional.

As these disciplines (physiology, neurology, psychology, pedagogy, art, science, anthropology) are based on ‘reality’ and not ‘fantasy’, this separates the discipline of graphology from the crystal ball gazer, astrologer or fortune teller that skeptic’s like to associate us with. Graphology itself is not immune to what every profession and trade around the world can fall prey to: the ‘armchair expert’, who has no interest in qualifying their skill and knowledge.

Graphologists enrolled at reputable institutions undergo training from between 3-4 years, which is quite a difference to those parlour tricks you can learn in a weekend workshop.

Depending on their training, some graphologists can add childhood and past components to a handwriting analysis. But no professional graphologist will ever make a blanket prediction of what a person will do based on the analysis of their handwriting. Handwriting signs do not predict what a person will do. Handwriting signs provide an assessment of personality. Therein lies the difference.

What is possible, however, is once you know the personality of a person, you are able to theorise how they may hypothetically act under a given set of conditions. In much the same way as other psychological or psychometric tests are used today right around the world whether in the military, government, education system or business, to ‘read’ or ‘associate’ personality with a particular job, behaviour, reaction, situation, etc. You can see that graphologists are not the only ones who are active in the psychometric testing industry.

It is possible to associate certain personality types to certain professions. After all, certain jobs require certain characteristics to be successfully done. For example, a shy person will not feel comfortable as a frontline salesperson. A dynamic high achiever will not feel valued in a routine desk job. You don’t need a graphological assessment to tell you that. It’s common sense. But in order to quickly gain insight into what kind of personality you have (without taking the necessary time to build up a friendship and find out over time) a graphological assessment is a very accurate, fast and comprehensive way to assess and gain insight into personality. If you make a prediction based on that insight afterwards, then that is up to the discretion of the person who has asked for the analysis.

It is completely understandable that human resource managers, and even employers, would like to fit the right personality with the right job. Thereby allowing their staff to rise to their potential and to develop themselves up and beyond. As well as keeping a business happy and teams productive and creative. Where is the harm here – if graphology is used as a tool and instrument to foster such an environment?

There is a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation spread out about what graphology is. This skewed perspective has actually very little to do with the question if any ‘scientific studies’ exist giving credibility to what graphology purports to do. There are scientific studies, many of them. There are interdisciplinary professionals who use graphology for a wide range of reasons and graphology itself has been studied, developed, and systematised by all manner of academics and ‘doctors’.

One of the problems is that there is no standardisation of training or testing (except for the work done by the ADEG), thereby allowing anyone to setup their own graphology school, become a graphologist, and not have to undergo any kind of peer scrutiny or accreditation. This combined with the use of graphology by amateurs in unsavoury settings (parlour tricks, as ice breakers, etc) have also contributed to the bad name graphology has received. However, skeptics also play a role. Perhaps if they shifted from distant observer to hands-on practitioner, they may see graphology in a different light. Instead of plugging old myths, they could instead, refresh the reality with how graphology stands today.

Ironically, graphology is not for everyone. It takes a certain kind of person to be a graphologist. So if graphology is not for you, then that doesn’t mean it isn’t credible or valuable.

Posted by Jasmin on Sep 30, 2011

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