In France Graphology is still actively used by some recruiters in order to attempt to evaluate applicants' personality from their handwriting (therefore covering letters in France are still handwritten in most cases as otherwise they could go to the trash).

Are there studies that can prove either that graphology is efficient or not?

For example here are examples:

  • Could you (even without being conscious of it) have a prejudice about a person that will draw a circle, not a dot, when drawing the letters ‘i’ and ‘j’?
  • Could you think that a person of which the writing is not easily readable that this person will have difficulties re-reading what they themselves wrote on scratchpad?
  • Could you think of a person with a very regular, scholar, cursive script that the person does what they are told to do?

Here are some arguments that people in favour of graphology could have.

  • Bah, Wiseman writes about this in 59 Seconds, but I'm not at home so I can't quote him. Suffice to say it's bogus :) I had no idea people applied it in real life like that. That's outrageous. Mar 11, 2011 at 9:15
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    @David Hedlund: Many application selection techniques are outrageous when you think about it. Recruiters get so huge stacks of resumes that they have to discriminate…
    – Benoit
    Mar 11, 2011 at 9:18
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    Granted! But if they have to, I'd still rather they'd discriminate by a criteria that actually does correlate with the characteristics that they ascribe to it. Now that you've added examples, though, I'll throw in that the second one sounds more plausible. That can be directly inferred from the fact that the hand writing is sloppy. I think that one has less to do with graphology than the other examples, and as such, might have higher validity. Mar 11, 2011 at 9:26
  • Graphology doesn't have any scientific basis. What you describe in the post is essentially snobbery or elitism based on handwriting. Also when it comes to application forms there will be an additional issue with analysising handwriting: impression management. Who doesn't try to give their best impression when writing a letter to a prospective employer? Mar 11, 2011 at 11:08
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    @David, like this? One of my previous bosses used to look at a pile of CVs, pick up half of it at random, and stick it in the bin, saying "I don't want to work with unlucky people." (link)
    – Benjol
    May 2, 2011 at 13:36

2 Answers 2


The seminal review on graphology is "Illusory Correlations in Graphological Inference" by Roy N. King and Derek J. Koehler, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology.

The study supports two major conclusions. (1) A meta-review of the literature finds "overwhelming evidence" against the predictive validity of graphology. (2) "Semantic association between words used to describe handwriting features and personality traits was the source of biases in perceived correlation" between hand-writing and personality.

In other words: the science of graphology is junk, but people continue to believe it because words used to describe handwriting (e.g. messy, unclear, neat, confused, meticulous) can so easily be used to pass judgement on the person.

Why the French in particular disregard the science for superstition is a topic for another question.

  • As I understand it, graphology can be used in medical diagnosis by looking at change in handwriting during illness, etc. e.g. In German, unfortunately Mar 4, 2013 at 15:00
  • Of course, just like the change in gait can be used to diagnose Parkinson's. But graphology implies a connection between handwriting and personality, not merely motor function.
    – denten
    Mar 6, 2013 at 7:24

If you were looking for someone who was organised, then it would seem that someone with neat handwriting would be more likely to be someone you'd want to hire. Of course, it is always possible that someone has muscle difficulties impeding handwriting, or learned handwriting from really strict teachers, or had their personality change from when they learned handwriting. I found this study:

Study results strongly recommend assessing organizational difficulties in children referred for therapy due to handwriting deficiency.

I would be quite doubtful of any other claims without strong evidence.

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    Why have you decided to be less doubtful about this one than any others? This is a speculative, far-fetched claim which you even admitted you cannot back up.
    – Timwi
    Apr 22, 2011 at 15:12
  • @Timiw: "you even admitted you cannot back up" - No, I was too lazy to back it up (added a reference now). "This is a speculative, far-fetched" - no it is a very reasonable claim
    – Casebash
    Apr 22, 2011 at 22:18

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