What does our handwriting say about us?

Written by: Leia Ong Rui En (20-U1), Soh Iwin, (20-E5), Zenov Liu Fan (20-U1)

Designed by: Lay Kai En, Ashley (21-O1)

Tall, short, skinny, big, curvy, spiky, connected… which of these adjectives describes you? Or, for that matter, your handwriting?

Our handwriting, besides being one of the most important mediums by which we communicate with others, is also one of the most tangible forms of self-expression. Beyond simply being messy, “aesthetic” or neat, psychologists have found handwriting to reveal a lot about you as a person and your personality, too. Experts term this study “graphology”, and we interviewed 3 Eunoians and surveyed 24 other students to find out: does the science match up? Read it below!

Slant 

By convention, slant refers to the degree of inclination of your words to the left or to the right. In psychological theory, having more slanted handwriting makes you more inclined to be ruled by your heart over your mind. Handwriting slanted left shows the writer’s sentimental disposition as one who values their relationships; conversely, a slant-right handwriting corresponds to introversion and a preference to work alone, with difficulty guarding against emotional outbursts. 

Are these theories accurate? We conducted a hypothesis test to see if H0 (the theories) can be rejected, and this is what our interviewees have to say! 

Iwin’s writing. Photo credit: EJC Press 

“It’s mostly accurate,” Soh Iwin (20-E5), who takes a hybrid subject combination, shared, stating how she’s a “really sentimental person” who “puts a lot of effort into [her] relationships”, which corresponds to her slant left handwriting. She also noted that there are instances where she does not use her heart to make decisions, hence accounting for the slight discrepancy. 

Kai Jie’s writing. Photo credit: EJC Press

As for our second interviewee Chong Kai Jie (20-A5), a science student, he laughed. “Honestly I see this [match]… as a coincidence”, he said. He has vertical slant handwriting, indicative of emotionally-controlled and logical people. Our survey also supported our hypothesis that the theory wasn’t as accurate, with only 54.2% of surveyees stating that it applied to them. 

Natalie’s handwriting. Photo credit: EJC Press

Natalie Chiang (20-U1), an arts student who also writes with a vertical slant, found that she “really identified with [this] trait” because she was “ruled by logic, not emotion”. Thus, it was clear to us that this theory of writing with a slant does accurately match the personalities it posits. 

Writing Pressure 

Next, we examine what one’s writing pressure says about their personality. You may be surprised to find that writing pressure is associated with the strength and level of intensity of one’s emotions! The more pressure you write with, the more intensely you feel and react to emotions. Conversely, one who writes with lighter pressure is said to be closer to emotional wellbeing (we could all use that sometimes)! 

Natalie’s handwriting. Photo credit: EJC Press

Based on these theories, there seems to be a spread of sentiments towards its accuracy. Natalie, who writes with medium pressure, found that being a student of the humanities, she is “accustomed to writing quickly”, which leaves little room for heavy pressure in her handwriting. Furthermore, when asked why this theory did not sit well with her, she responded, “I value sensibility and making decisions in the most practical way,” not one to let her emotions rule her. 

Kai Jie’s writing. Photo credit: EJC Press

Being someone who writes with medium pressure, and presumably has control over his emotions, Kai Jie agreed with the theory, albeit with a healthy dose of scepticism. “[The theories are] mostly half-correct for me,” he commented.

Iwin’s writing. Photo credit: EJC Press 

On the other extreme, Iwin jumped at the theory and said that it was “accurate”. In explaining the relation between the theory and her handwriting, she said, “Although it’s rare for me to be very sad, if I am, I feel it pretty intensely, and it takes me quite some time to get over wounds from the people I love and care about.” 

It was clear to us that this theory drew mixed reactions, as only a slight majority (58.3%) of the Eunoians we surveyed agreed with this feature’s theory, highlighting that it is still up for debate whether one’s writing pressure can really determine how intense one’s emotions are.

Lowercase Letter ‘t’ 

This category is one of the most literal: according to research, the height of where you draw the horizontal bar of the letter ‘t’ can indicate the height of your self-esteem! A high ‘t’-bar indicates high self-esteem, a middle bar, average self-esteem, and a low bar represents low self-esteem.

Our interviewees seemed to have mixed feelings about this assessment. “The lowercase letter ‘t’ part is pretty wrong for me,” quipped Kai Jie, who writes with a high ‘t’-bar. 

Kai Jie’s ‘t’. Photo credit: EJC Press

Iwin,  meanwhile, found the theory “accurate. I don’t believe in having too low or too high an amount of self esteem; both are detrimental.” She writes with a middle ‘t’-bar. 

Other Eunoians seemed to have similar polarised reactions, with only a slight majority of 58.3% agreeing with this feature’s theory.

Connections Between Letters 

Do you connect your letters in your writing? Psychologically speaking, having connected letters indicates a person’s ease in adapting to change, corresponding to a person’s high intuition — the contrary means that a person is logical and methodical. A whopping 70.8% of our surveyees indicated this theory’s accuracy, with Iwin agreeing. Having connected words, she “can adapt well to changes” such as “changing [her] favourite study spots in the library”, she laughed. 

As someone with both connected and unconnected letters, Kai Jie was more doubtful. “I write faster and messier in Econs essays, so my letters become more connected,” he said, showing us a sample.

Kai Jie’s fast writing. Photo credit: EJC Press

“When I write quickly, my words just become illegible to the common folk,” he noted. “I, [however], have mastered the art of interpreting my own holy texts.”

Natalie’s handwriting. Photo credit: EJC Press

Natalie, who writes with connected letters, also was doubtful of this theory, since she “takes pride in being a logical person”. However, she added that though she enjoys reading her handwriting, she dislikes it “when people can’t read it or say it looks like a foreign language”.

Letter Size 

Lastly, how large one’s handwriting is can be representative of how extroverted one is, and how much one wants to feel noticed or understood. The added layer here is that small handwriting also can represent strong focus and concentration. 

Iwin’s writing. Photo credit: EJC Press 

As someone who writes with small letters, Iwin confidently disagreed: “Inaccurate, for I’m extroverted around crowds.” This seems to be well supported by our surveyees’ sentiments, where only a slight majority of 54.2% agreed that this theory resonated with them. 

Kai Jie’s writing. Photo credit: EJC Press

On the other hand, Kai Jie felt that this theory was only partially correct, being someone who is “introverted, [but with] terrible focus and concentration”. He also noted that the type of pen he used affected how big his letters appeared, as he reflected upon how his handwriting used to be large because he used a thick pen, later becoming “small and short” when he used a 0.1 drawing pen in secondary school.

Natalie’s handwriting. Photo credit: EJC Press

Natalie also writes with a smaller letter size with “a slight lean to cursive” in her “personally aesthetically-pleasing” end strokes. Though so, her personality still aligns more with the theory than against it, being an introvert who can focus for long periods of time during her café-hops. 

How Our Handwriting Changed Over Time

As we grow older and accumulate more experience and skill with a pen, it makes sense that our handwriting could reflect this by changing — one of the most universal ways is through the adoption of more cursive handwriting, as most of us are no doubt familiar with countless teachers’ and parents’ scrawling, legible or not.

The rigour of JC schoolwork has also created a newfound need for some to write faster. “I started [writing in cursive] to write faster to match the speed at which my thoughts flow out of my mind [during exams],” stated Iwin. “However, I do know of people who write in non-cursive ways despite the time constraints during exams, though!”

Alternatively, consciously changing handwriting, whether cursive or not, can reflect the growth in our mindsets and (possible) attainment of increased maturity.  

“In primary school, I used to write really big [letters],” said Kai Jie, who in secondary school changed to writing small and short letters like “pancakes”. “Then, I learnt that writing tall makes words more legible so I write much taller [letters] now.”

For others, changes in handwriting may be due to the desire to write in a more aesthetically-pleasing manner. As Natalie pointed out, her handwriting started from one that was “super tall and chunky” when she was in primary school, but gradually shifted with penmanship lessons to a “cursive-esque style” that she thought flowed better. 

Signing Off

Conclusively, we found most of the graphology findings to be only somewhat accurate — with polarising results for each theory. The most widely-accepted theory was that of connections between letters. It is of course impossible to accurately classify all personality types through something as arbitrary and fluctuating as handwriting, as both Natalie and Kai Jie noted.

Whether by choice or nature, we can safely say that the ways that we write and how it changes say something about our personality, or at least the state of mind we were in when writing. 

When our interviewees were asked whether they liked or disliked their handwriting, both Iwin and Kai Jie mentioned that they disliked the “messiness” of their handwriting. To that we say: never mind! Your handwriting is a unique product you and only you can create; take pride in seeing the amazingness that is your mind on paper. The only thing that does matter, however, is perhaps its legibility — only through that can we convey our thoughts (and exam answers) to others.

We can accept and love our handwriting, no matter what science may say about it or you. So, write on!

Bibliography

Gal, S. (May 2018) What your handwriting says about your personality. Retrieved from https://www.insider.com/what-your-handwriting-says-about-you-2014-7#slant-2

Gavrilescu, M., Vizireanu, N. (2018) Predicting the big five personality traits from handwriting. Retrieved from 

https://jivp-eurasipjournals.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s13640-018-0297-3

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