Exploring The Connection Between Handwriting And Personality

The analysis of handwriting, known as graphology, has been studied for centuries as a way to learn about people’s personalities and tendencies based on their penmanship. Many graphologists claim that how we shape letters and words on a page provides insight into our inner thoughts and outward behaviors. While the validity of handwriting analysis is debated, research has shown connections between handwriting characteristics like size, slant, spacing, and pressure and psychological traits. This article will explore the historical origins of handwriting analysis, key traits that are believed to correlate with personality, criticisms of the practice, and the extent to which experts believe handwriting reveals who we are.

History of Handwriting Analysis

The analysis of handwriting, known as graphology, emerged in the 18th century in Britain. Artists like Gainsborough were known to have analyzed handwriting to assess personality traits (The History of Graphology). In the late 1700s, Italian criminologist Camillo Baldi wrote a book on handwriting analysis, believing that a person’s personality could be revealed through their writing style.

According to forensic research, the origins of modern graphology as a personality assessment tool can be traced back to the 1870s in France (Forensic Graphology: Assessment of Personality). French abbott Jean-Hippolyte Michon became interested in handwriting analysis and published books on the subject in the 1870s and 1880s, coining the term “graphology.” He analyzed over 10,000 handwriting samples to categorize how different personality traits correlate with particular handwriting styles.

How Handwriting Relates to Personality

Handwriting analysts believe that the size, slant, spacing, and pressure of a person’s writing can reveal key aspects of their personality.

The overall size of someone’s handwriting can indicate if they have an outgoing, sociable personality or a more introverted nature. Larger writing often correlates to an extroverted, talkative, and social personality, while smaller writing may signify that someone is more shy, reserved, and introspective (source).

The slant of handwriting refers to whether it leans left, right, or is upright. A right slant suggests an outward nature and a desire to interact with people, while left slanted writing can mean someone is more private, introspective, or skeptical. Upright writing indicates a logical, practical thinker (source).

Spacing between letters and words in handwriting can reveal organization skills and attention to detail. Wide spacing usually correlates to an open, creative thinker who doesn’t focus on details. Narrow spacing signifies analytical abilities and a methodical personality that values order (source).

The pressure applied shows how someone channels and controls their emotions. Heavy pressure indicates high energy and intensity, while light pressure suggests a sensitive, empathetic nature. Inconsistent pressure points to moodiness and poor emotional regulation (source).

Handwriting and Extroversion

Studies have found connections between extroverted personality traits and specific handwriting characteristics. According to research published in the journal Perceptual and Motor Skills, extroverts tend to have larger, more open letter formations in their handwriting (Rosenthal, 1978). This includes larger lowercase letters in comparison to uppercase, more open ovals in letters such as “a”, “d”, and “g”, and expanded word spacing.

These handwriting features are believed to reflect extroverts’ outward-focused energy and desire for human interaction and stimulation. Extroverts enjoy engaging with the outside world, so their handwriting tends to be larger and more openly spaced – taking up more room on the page. Introverts, on the other hand, often have smaller, more cramped handwriting which keeps focused inward (Gobrin, 2017).

A 1977 study by Williams also found that extroverts tended to have sloping, “left-slanted” handwriting as opposed to introverts’ more vertical script. This dynamic letter slant reveals extroverts’ enthusiasm and forward momentum (Williams, 1977). When connecting handwriting to personality, larger and more openly spaced letters can indicate an outgoing, gregarious nature.

Handwriting and Neuroticism

According to Eysenck (1948) at
“Neuroticism” and Handwriting, there appears to be a connection between irregular, inconsistent handwriting and neuroticism. Eysenck had a graphologist rate 176 handwriting samples on a scale of neuroticism. The graphologist found that samples with irregular, inconsistent writing tended to score higher on neuroticism.

This suggests that people who are prone to negative emotions like anxiety, irritability, and sadness may exhibit more variability in their handwriting. Their inconsistent pen pressure, slanting, spacing, and letter formation reflects inner turmoil and lack of emotional stability.

However, while the study found a correlation, the connection between irregular handwriting and neuroticism remains controversial. More research would be needed to demonstrate a definitive link. Handwriting analysis should be considered cautiously rather than an absolute indicator of personality.

Handwriting and Conscientiousness

Studies have found connections between handwriting and the Big Five personality trait of conscientiousness. Conscientiousness refers to being organized, thoughtful, and goal-oriented. People high in conscientiousness tend to have neat and legible handwriting.

One study found that levels of conscientiousness were positively correlated with brain activation in the left premotor region during handwriting tasks (Yang et al., 2022). This suggests a neurological link between conscientiousness and handwriting neatness.

Another study predicted conscientiousness scores from handwriting features like consistency, simplicity, and legibility (Gavrilescu, 2018). People with high conscientiousness tended to have consistent letter sizes, simple letter forms without extra flourishes, and highly legible writing.

In general, people with neat, orderly, and legible handwriting tend to be more conscientious. Their writing reflects their organized and thoughtful approach to tasks. Those with messier, inconsistent, or embellished handwriting may be less conscientious in personality.

Handwriting and Openness

Openness to experience is one of the Big Five personality traits. It reflects a person’s willingness to try new things and be imaginative. Researchers have found connections between a person’s level of openness and certain handwriting characteristics.

People who score high in openness tend to have more creative and abstract handwriting styles. Their writing often includes decorative flourishes and ornate capital letters (https://www.pens.com/blog/handwriting-infographic/). There may be variations in size and shapes of letters within the same word. The writing does not follow a strict form.

One study analyzed handwritten text samples from over a thousand participants and used machine learning algorithms to predict personality traits (https://jivp-eurasipjournals.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s13640-018-0297-3). They found the highest prediction accuracy for openness to experience from handwriting, over 84%. Features related to abstractness, uniqueness, and embellishment of writing had the strongest correlation with openness.

Neuroimaging research also shows openness is associated with differences in brain activation patterns during handwriting tasks (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9796404/). People high in openness utilize more regions related to working memory and cognitive control when handwriting.

Overall, a more free-flowing, abstract, decorated handwriting style tends to signify a more open, creative personality.

Handwriting and Agreeableness

Agreeableness is one of the Big Five personality traits and has to do with how cooperative, helpful, and sympathetic a person is. Handwriting analysis suggests that people with more rounded letters tend to be higher in agreeableness and seek harmony in relationships.

According to graphology experts, the roundness of someone’s handwriting can reveal how agreeable they are. People who naturally write using round, circular strokes tend to be more cooperative, emotionally available, and keen to avoid conflict. Their preference for rounded letters reflects a desire for harmony and an accommodating nature (source).

In contrast, those with more pointed, angular handwriting are believed to be more self-interested and competitive. The sharpness of their strokes mirrors a more critical attitude and tendency to challenge others. Rounder writing has been associated with higher emotional intelligence and social skills.

However, some disagreement exists among graphology experts as to what specific letter shapes indicate about agreeableness. Some associate roundness with sincerity and pointedness with sarcasm. Others link rounded letters to conformity and angular letters to rebelliousness. More research is needed to clarify the meaning of letter shapes.

Criticisms of Handwriting Analysis

One of the main criticisms of handwriting analysis is the lack of scientific evidence to support its use. Many studies have questioned the validity and reliability of handwriting analysis as a tool for assessing personality and predicting behavior. According to one report, there is no empirical data to substantiate graphology as a science. The report states that despite claims by practitioners, no rigorous scientific studies have demonstrated the ability of handwriting analysis to accurately gauge psychological traits beyond what is expected by chance.

Furthermore, a review of existing literature on graphology found that the correlations between handwriting features and personality traits were weak and inconsistent (Thorpe, 2018). Most psychologists dismiss graphology as a pseudoscience due to the lack of statistical validity and reliability. They argue there is insufficient evidence that handwriting analysis is accurate for personality assessment or occupational screening.


In summary, there is some evidence that a person’s handwriting can provide insight into their personality traits. While graphology has its critics, studies have found correlations between aspects of handwriting, such as size, slant, and pressure, and the Big Five personality traits of openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. However, more research needs to be done using larger, more diverse sample sizes and standardized handwriting analysis methods before definitive conclusions can be made.

Future studies should focus on replicating existing findings, clarifying inconsistent results, and elucidating the neurological and motor mechanisms behind any handwriting-personality connections. Researchers should also examine whether different styles of handwriting, print versus cursive, have varying relationships with personality. As our methods of written communication continue to evolve in the digital age, it will be interesting to investigate if there are links between digital writing patterns and personality as well.

While handwriting analysis for personality assessment remains controversial, the intriguing connections uncovered so far warrant further exploration. With rigorous scientific examination, we may come to better understand the nature of any relationship between the way we shape letters on a page and the way we shape our lives.

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