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Graphology and the Courts: An Ultraexpertarian Approach

NCJ Number
International Journal of Forensic Document Examiners Volume: 5 Dated: December/January 1999 Pages: 117-122
George J. Throckmorton
Date Published
6 pages
More than 500 people participated in a series of blind tests to determine whether the principles of graphology are accurate and consistent.
One of the duties of a forensic document examiner is to examine handwriting for the purpose of identity or non-identity of authorship. Extensive training based on scientific principles allows examinations to be done accurately and consistently. In recent years a number of handwriting analysts trained entirely in graphology (the personality assessment of handwriting) have been giving testimony in court on matters that pertain to forgery detection. Although they claim their methodology is accurate and "scientific," can it stand up to the analytical scrutiny of blind test research? In the current study, each of 506 individuals was instructed to write a standard paragraph of writing on a blank sheet of paper by using their normal handwriting style. All of the writing samples were submitted for analysis to one or more handwriting analysts, including four graphologists with a combined total of just over 70 years experience and two "master" graphoanalysts with a combined total of just over 25 years experience. A written report was obtained from the analysts, and the results were scrutinized according to five criteria: consistency, self-evaluation, peer evaluation, clinical evaluation, and comparison. The results of various blind tests showed no correlation between a person's handwriting and their personality traits. The research indicates that graphology is neither accurate nor consistent. Since non-scientific methodology should not be used to justify a scientific opinion, it is a fatuous proposition for people trained exclusively in graphology to be allowed to offer courtroom testimony as an expert witness. 4 tables and 6 references


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