Graphology (French “graphologie”; etymology, Greek words “graphein” to write/ writing and “logos” study/ discourse): it is the study of handwriting. It is a technique of observation and interpretation, enabling the personality to be studied through the examination of handwriting. Forensic graphology is the study of handwriting especially those found in ransom notes, blackmail letters, kidnapping letters etc. Graphologists can deduce the writer’s thoughts, his feelings, and also his behavior, but it is next to impossible to conclude writer’s gender, marital status, age of a person, race, religious beliefs, and even handedness.
Forensic handwriting experts implement writing patterns in order to determine personality traits of an individual. Handwriting is an individual characteristics, it is always unique for every individual, analyzing those can pave a way to reveal about one’s personality. Our conscious mind determines what we write, and our sub-conscious mind controls how we write. Personality traits can be analyzed by size, pressure, speed, spacing, slant etc. To determine handwriting traits that correspond to particular characteristics, forensic experts needs to study a large portions of handwriting samples from known/control and unknown/suspect sources.
Although graphology had some support in the scientific community before the mid-twentieth century, more recent research rejects the validity of graphology as a tool to assess personality and job performance. Forensic handwriting analysts will always look at a variety of samples from the same person to make a comparison and be as accurate as possible. Experts in this field use various tools, one among those include the magnifying lens to observe the handwriting and unique features. Manual or physical analysis involves the study of various handwriting features such a slant, margins, spacing between the words, connections between the letters, pen pressure, line spacing, movements, grammar, tendencies towards left or right, headings, alignments formations, ‘i’ dots, ‘t’ bars and many more.
Each feature has a specific meaning and helps to identify personality traits of an individual. Accuracy of which depends on the skills of a forensic graphologist. Another methodology includes automatic analysis through computer system. Extraction of these features manually from a particular sample could be tiresome and also prone to error, as in few features can be overlooked as well when the sample is analyzed manually. Experts can easily rely on software that works efficiently without making errors. CAG (Computer Aided Graphology) is one such software. This system involves the below-mentioned steps:
• Scanning, of the respective handwriting sample.
• Further processing of the sample, this step deals with the removing or cropping out of the extra pixels from the sample and changing the RGB image to gray scale image.
• Feature extraction, the concerned sample is then subjected to segmentation and further detailed analysis of each segment is done to extract the different individual features from the handwriting; like slant, spacing, alignment etc.
• Feature analyzing, the extracted features are interpreted in this step. Implementation of context free grammar in the system to apply the graphology rules.
After the interpretation, results are printed and stored for future references. Other handwriting softwares that are commonly used are- WANDA, CEDAR-FOX etc.
A few of the features along with their notable corresponding meaning in terms of describing one’s personality characteristics are as follows:
1. Line spacing- widely spaced lines tends to show open mindedness, such individuals have an attitude to take a stand back, whereas narrow spaced lines show that the writer is narrow minded, and tend to react when close to action.
2. Alignments- writers with upward alignment are quite optimistic, or might have been in the state of excitement while executing the writing. In case of downward alignments, the writer’s pessimistic character is shown, or indicative of his or her emotional state.
Organized people have more of a straight alignment.
3. Pen pressure- slow writers, as well as illiterates execute their writing with a heavy pen pressure, on the contrary fast writers; have light to no pen pressure at all. Individual with moderate pen pressure are seemed to be balanced emotionally, and uneven pressure shown lack of vitality.
4. Size and proportion of letters- larger the size of handwriting, more is the confidence in a person. Small size of writing indicates the person is of introvert nature.
5. Position of “i “ and “ j “ dots- absence of the diacritics show the absentmindedness of the writer. For writers who place the diacritics as in circular form possess artistic personality, and for writers using an open dot, show visionary character.
6. Shape of “ t” bars- crossbars with upward slant, is a sign that the writer is ambitious. In some cases the crossbars don’t touch the stem of the letter and is placed at the high right side, this feature determines the leadership qualities and intelligence that the person holds.
Figure 1 – Few Graphological Features of Handwriting
Often used in psychological analysis; within individual psychotherapy, marital counselling or even vocational counselling. Grapho-therapy is another common application; it is a pseudoscience of changing a person’s handwriting with the goal of changing features of his or her personality. Forensic graphology can assist the police department in solving crimes related to burglary, thefts, suicides and even murder. Graphology can speed up the investigation via writing; signature of a suspect to solve the cases. A graphologist usually looks for some insights like- mood, motivation, integrity, intelligence alongside with emotional stability. For example, the slant of the writer determines the social personality and his or her emotional temperament, the baselines indicates the mood, individuality of traits are noticed with the formation of individualistic letters.
The science investigating the relationship between the author and the text is named as graphology. Graphology is been utilized in various domains such as education, business, clinics, justice, and forensic sciences. One of the domains where graphology is used at most is forensic graphology. Forensic graphologists try to determine if a text or a signature is original or to whom a copy or text or a signature in a document belongs. Majority of all the forensic document investigations includes comparison of both differences and similarities between the texts or even a signature.
Points to be kept in mind while dealing with documentation cases:
• The text or signature having uncertain owner must be suitable for the further investigation to be carried forward.
• The comparison materials must be sufficient for analysing.
• The text or signature having certain ownership must be able to represent the graphological features.
Learning at SIFS India
To learn more, visit the Sherlock Institute of Forensic Science India where the team of expert professionals and certified faculty provides you with a great opportunity to learn forensics by attending different forensic events organized from time to time. Also, you can learn by registering yourself in forensic courses and training programs offered by SIFS India both in online and offline mode. You can also visit our YouTube channel for all the events recoding.
Join our Telegram Channel for the hub of forensic books and study material.
You can put your review here if you have a great experience with SIFS India.
Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn for all updates regarding internships training, conference and other educational events organised by Sifs India.
You can Attempt the weekly forensic quiz and post your certificate on social media by tagging the official Page of SIFS India with proper hashtags such as #SIFSIndia #LearnForensic to get a chance to be the winner.
Note - The figures and images used in this blog are only for educational purposes.