For years handwriting analysis has been confused with occult practices, when some of it has been found useful for determining identity for document examination. Now those who use it to analyze deception have scientific foundation for their views.
In the recent November 2009 edition of Applied Psychology, a recent research study shows how deception can be analyzed through handwriting analysis. It is done through the use of a computerized tool that allows handwriting characteristics to be measured more effectively than the usual practice of eyeballing the material.
I interviewed Kim Iannetta, who is a world renown handwriting analyst who specializes in assessing dangerousness in writing, about the recent research. She says, “Handwriting can give people a lot of information about a person. That’s because it is brain writing more than just handwriting. Furthermore, there are specific characteristics that reveal inappropriate, dangerous or difficult behavior, including deception.”
Iannetta, who lives in Kailua, Hawaii, maintains close relationships with other noted handwriting analysts and researchers around the world, so she is familiar with the recent study. Two decades ago, Iannetta completed research through Hawaii Hospital, along with psychologists, to determine characteristics of dangerousness in writing. Her evaluation of the criminally insane through handwriting was observed to be as good as clinically trained psychologists, according to Heather Cattell, wife of the late Dr. Cattell, creator of the 16pf, one of the foremost personality tests used in the United States.
This new research on handwriting, completed by a team of experts and led by Gil Luria and Sara Rosenblum at the University of Haifa, used a computerized tablet measuring physical properties found in a subject’s handwriting that are considered difficult to consciously control. An example is how long a pen rests on the page, or in the air, the length, height and width of writing strokes and the pressure and variations of it on a given page. Researchers found that those who wrote deceptive sentences had different handwriting characteristics than those who wrote truthful sentences. Researchers hope using handwriting will replace or work with other lie detection technologies such as the polygraph, given ease of administration and increased accuracy of handwriting analysis.
In terms of identifying personality traits in general, research remains on handwriting analysis is limited and tenuous at best in comparison with standard personality tests such as Cattell’s 16pf. ]A research study conducted at the University of Glasgow found correlation with handwriting analysis and results of the 16pf to be only at chance level compared with the actual personality test results given to a series of subjects. Despite arguments about limited research and lack of reliability of handwriting analysis compared with traditional measures, certain well-known analysts such as Sheila Lowe believe handwriting analysis to determine personality is accurate.
Despite the controversy over the use of handwriting analysis to determine personality features, this newest research reveals that deception, a specific trait, can be measured through handwriting analysis, which may mean a new diagnostic tool for investigators that can be helpful, and as others have said, easy to administer.