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A script for screening.

Not until the Bookkeeper began coming to work in a chauffeur-driven limousine and started wearing expensive jewelry did security personnel take notice of this $20,000-a-year employee. Unfortunately, over the course of five years, this pleasant and seemingly loyal employee embezzled $4 million from the company's treasury.

To test firsthand the accuracy of handwriting analysis, the embezzler's handwritten notes were sent to a handwriting analysis firm that knew nothing about the theft. The results revealed that this individual was kind and considerate (scored 82 percent) but scored low in honesty (16 percent.

A female employee of Fortunate 50 computer corporation, for example, received anonymous love letters place randomly at the job site. The letters continued, becoming more frequent, intimate, and peculiar.

Terrified and unable to function effectively, the woman eventually disrupted her entire department. Management called n security, but with more than 4,000 employees and dozens of vendors at the facility, identifying the source of the letters was difficult.

To quicken the investigation, the disruptive letters were submitted for analysis to learn more about the psychological] makeup of the author. The results, containing 125 personality traits, included the following:

* maturity:low

* fears: high

* communication skills: poor

* violence risk factor: low

* aggressiveness: low

* resentment: low

* intellectual development: low

The analysis results profiled an innocuous and shy individual, and the woman's anxiety was greatly reduce, permitting her to regain her ability to function effectively.

With the personalty makeup of the offender in hand, the security team was able to narrow the focus of suspects considerably. Once the person was identified, a follow-up interrogation incorporated the personality profile to assist in assessing the motives and intent of the individual responsible.

Security management can use the psychological profiles generated from a handwriting analysis as both preventive and reactive instrument to

* evaluate the potentially violent or unstable individual,

* use in employment screening.

* use as interrogation and investigation tool,

* evaluate high security clearance individuals,

* evaluate changes in an individual's personality over time.

* use in team building and job promotion consideration, and

* evaluate threatening and anonymous letter.

Graphology, or handwriting analysis, is the study of handwriting shapes and pattern to determine the personality and behavior of the writer. Graphology should not be confused with document examination, which disregards the personality of the writer but determines forgeries and altered documents.

A recent study, presented at the American Psychological Association's annual convention, revealed that graphology - conducted with the aid of computer technology - can be a reliable tool for determining traits such as honesty, emotional stability, substance abuse risk, and judgment.

Four separate studies, involving nearly 800 test subjects, were conducted to examine the above attributes independently. Analysis of the data concluded that this system of graphology successfully sorted the convicted repeat criminals from honest individuals, drug addicts from nondrug users, and the emotionally unstable or volatile from the stable and responsible.

By implementing a specially designed computer system known as CHAPS (Computerized Handwriting Analysis Profiling Systems), greater reliability, accuracy, and speed were achieved than seen previously using graphologists. The results are largely attributable to increased objectivity and consistency through a more exacting measurement of handwriting shapes and patterns, which a computer program requires. Now at 15 years in development and a cost of $2 million, this system begins to demonstrate the inherent value in handwriting analysis.

A great deal of media coverage has been focused in recent years on the growing use of handwriting analysis in the corporate world. Coverage, for example, has been included in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, ABC World News Tonight, and The Christian Science Monitor.

Handwriting analysis for employment screening and assessment and team-building purposes is reported to be spreading throughout corporate America; an estimated 5,000 companies currently use the service. In Europe, handwriting analysis has long been accepted as a legitimate field of scientific study and is used as a psychological assessment technique with applications in corporate and clinical setting.(1)

The psychology departments of several leading European and Israeli universities offer a doctorate or master's degree with emphasis in handwriting analysis. Several professional journals are now devoted to this specialty, and a substantial amount of scientific, literature has accrued on the topic.(2)

Since the year 1622, approximately 2,000 research papers on this topic have been published in various medical, educational criminological, and psychological journals around the world. In France and Switzerland, 80 percent of the largest companies use handwriting analysis in employment selection. In Israel, handwriting analysis is used more than any other form of personality assessment.

Large numbers of businesses in these countries, including subsidiaries of Coca-Cola Co., General Foods, and Chase Manhattan, now make use of handwriting analysis in hiring.3 "We find it quite reliable," says Jacqueline Dulestre, the personnel chief at Coca-Cola France.(4) In Germany, newspaper employment advertisement commonly request a handwritten resume.

In the western hemisphere, acceptance has come more slowly due to several factors:

* American psychologist are largely unaware of the volume of research on the topic.

* few American universities offer training in the field, and

* unqualified handwriting analysts have proliferated n the marketplace.

Despite these obstacles, serious use of graphology is on the rise.

According to The Wall Street Journal and other business periodicals, the increasing use of handwriting analysis is attributable in part of the ban on the use of the polygraph in employment selection, high employee turnover and theft despite the proliferation of paper-and-pencil tests, recent scientific advancements in graphology, ongoing international media coverage, and increasing court acceptance of the practice.(5)

As a result, Ford Motor Company, General Electric, the CIA, and other organization have begun using the technique as a preventive and reactive instrument.(6)

The Fact That Two Handwritings are identical has, for centuries, spurred researchers to investigate the relationship between personality and handwriting. Aristotle, Julius Caesar, Cicero, Napoleon, Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Alfred Adler, and Alfred Binet are just a few notable individuals who perceived value in using the graphology as a way to better understand themselves and others.(7)

In the 1930s Ludwig Klages, a German graphologist, philosopher, and psychologist determined that every human movement, which includes the handwriting motion, is an expressive movement from which the distinctive personality makeup of the author can be ascertained.

Klages established a reference system of principles for interpreting these expressive handwriting motions into personality attributes or traits. Since handwriting behavior is the only permanently recorded expressive movement made by an individual, he applied this reference system to interpreting aspects of handwriting as though each stroke represented a gesture or action by the writer.

Klages' position was that since handwriting strokes can be measured and rated, a reliable system of interpretation could also be established and tested.(8) Retrospectively, Klages's work set the foundation and stage for graphology to be implemented as a psychodiagnostic technique.

Also significant during this period was the work of Gordon Allport and Phillip E. Vernon at the Harvard Psychological Clinic. These two men furthered the Work of Klages, establishing more specific evidence correlating handwriting behavior to personality.

These researchers made the following three important contributions to the principles of graphology and psychology:

* Personality is consistent

* Movement is an expression of personality.

* A person's gestures and other expressive movements (such as handwriting) are consistent with one another.

These three principles constitute the foundation for all practical attempts to identify personality characteristics on the basis of external movements.(9)

The work of Klages and other researchers in the 1920s to 1950s and the earlier 1919 work of Wilhelm Preyer, a professor of physiology and psychology in Jena, Germany, also confirmed that handwriting is a behavior that can be measured, studied, and related to human personality.

These researchers established that handwriting is a misnomer since it is, more accurately, brainwriting. This means the handwriting movement is physiologically initiated, directed, and controlled by the brain. Messages are sent from the brain to the hand via the central nervous system; therefore, any disturbance, change, or development that takes place in the brain will be evident in the writing motion.(10)

For example, consider an individual who is forced to write with his or her nondominant hand, foot, or teeth because of amputation or limb damage. Once the writer regains motor coordination, the writing regains its normal appearance, demonstrating the writing limb does not determine the writing pattern, the brain does. This principle assist in assessing disguised and handwriting, as an individual's true character invariably peers through despite the writer's best efforts.

What is required for handwriting analysis? When evaluating job applicants or employees not under investigation, a consent form that informs the writer of the purpose of the analysis is encouraged through not legally required. The writer can then be asked to hand write a page, describing such things as an ideal work environment for example, although contents are disregarded. Graphologists also desire a spontaneous script rather than copied text. Cursive script with a signature on unlined paper is preferred.

In those instances where security seeks to evaluate individuals without their awareness, any number of methods suffice. A questionnaire can be handed out, a note found in the office, handwriting samples thrown in the trash, and handwritten employment records may be adequate for analysis. The samples can then be faxed or mailed for analysis.

Handwriting Analysis is not a Replacement for paper-and-pencil tests, but it does possess distinct advantages. It can be used in specific, sensitive situations where tests cannot.

In some investigations, graphology may be the only psychological assessment device suitable, such as when the individual under investigation cannot or will not be subjected to a test. Instances in which the person under investigation is suspected of being too clever or too dangerous, or when the investigators wish to not make known the investigation is underway, are all scenarios where graphology provides the needed psychological data.

Because handwriting analysis is not a test in which someone passes or fails but rather a profile of a unique individual, many of the pitfalls inherent in traditional paper-and-pencil tests are avoided.

Unlike psychological tests, graphology does not become obsolete because of outdated or culturally discriminatory test questions; it is not even necessary that the person speak or write English. Furthermore, no invasive, personal, or insulting questions are asked to create animosity toward the employer.

Handwriting analysis does not unfairly discriminate against legally protected minorities as gender, age, race physical handicaps, and religious beliefs, nor does the handwriting analyst ever need to see the writer. The use of handwriting analysis also skirts the problem of test-wise individuals who, through experience, cunning, or coaching, have learned to outsmart tests. Cooperation, honesty, and self-understanding from the test subject are not required for success.

To date, no lawsuits have been brought against employers who use graphology. In 1973, the Supreme Court held in United States v. Dionisio that the physical characteristic of a person's voice, gestures, handwriting, and face, being constantly exposed to the public view, are not within the protection of the Fourth Amendment.(11)

In United States v. Rosinsky (1977), the court held that handwriting is a behavior seen in public - examining it is not an intrusion into privacy.(12) Similarly, the US Supreme Court has held that handwriting samples are not protected by the Fifth Amendment privilege against compulsory self-incrimination.(13)

Furthermore, test criteria guidelines set forth by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission clearly indicate graphology evaluation is not considered as a test, therefore, not constrained by testing standards criteria.(14) Provided the handwriting sample was not obtained illegally, (that is, through breaking and entering), and the psychological profile is used in a professional manner, (that is, not displayed in public), there should be no problem.

To obtain a comprehensive picture of a person's character from psychological tests, a battery of tests are required. According to Michael Mercer, a Chicago industrial psychologist, "Companies using handwriting analysis say they prefer it to traditional personality tests because job candidates need take only a few minutes to jot down a short essay. By contrast, a battery of personalty tests and several hours of interviews with a psychologist can cost as much as $1,000."(15) This compares with $225 for a comprehensive handwriting analysis report.

Other advantages exist as well. If a company sought to evaluate, for example, a security officer's emotional stability, leadership skills, and attention to detail, a single graphology report could assess those attributes, whereas three separate psychological tests would be necessary, as no single test measures these traits.

According to Andre Jacob, managing director of Laboratories Upsa, "Graphology is just as effective as testing and easier to administer." A study of new employees after their first year at the large pharmaceutical concern showed 80 percent turned out just as their handwriting analyses predicted.(16)

According to membership records of graphological organizations, in the United States alone here are more than 20,000 certified graphologist. However, most graphologist receive their certification through correspondence courses from organizations that require no prerequisite psychological or criminological

university training. Before a company uses a graphologist firm, it should be sure to ascertain qualifications, education, and experience of the firm's graphologist.

Ethically, all personality profiles should be used as an additional tool in human resource and loss prevention decisions, not as the sole decision-making instrument. A company should discuss the results of the analysis with the graphology firm to ensure that it understand the results and receives proper counsel regarding their use. To avoid violating federal privacy protection laws, results should remain confidential.

Application for Handwriting Analysis include the following:

Evaluating the potentially violent or emotionally unstable. Individuals believed to be potentially dangerous or volatile can be assessed by submitting a handwriting sample. No knowledge or awareness of the assessment by the suspected individual is needed. Since the handwriting samples can be obtained surreptitiously, this covert method provides security personnel the needed psychological data without unnecessarily escalating tension.

Obtaining psychological data before an incident arises also helps minimize various forms of legal risks, such as negligent supervision and negligent retention claims. Courts are now beginning to hold employers more responsible for the actions of the drug induced or the emotionally unstable in high-risk positions. This is particularly true if the injury or harm was foreseeable or f the employer knew or should have known based on a reasonable investigation that the employee was not suitable for the duties of the position.

In some states, if an employer retains an employee who later causes harm to others and the employer could have known about the risk beforehand but failed to reduce the risk by providing stronger supervision or by terminating the employee, the company can be held responsible for damages.

A company that collects psychological data on potentially dangerous or volatile employees before an incident occurs and responds accordingly demonstrate an interest in the safety of personnel. This reduces both corporate liability and the number of incidents.

Should the graphology report, along with other supporting data, suggest instead that no jeopardy exist, then those investigated need never know they were suspect. Further, corporate liability is held to a minimum since a reasonable effort was made to investigate potentially high-risk personnel should the data later prove wrong and an incident does occur.

Use in employment screening. The most common application of graphology is evaluating job applicants. Everyone from the CEO to the part-time janitor may be easily evaluated.

One university study gathered data to evaluate the effectiveness of graphology in employment selection. The study involved 37 California firms that used graphology for an average of 5.2 years on positions ranging from truck drivers to all sales personnel and managers. All companies reported an increase in their retention rates after the introduction of graphology, with an overall improvement of 28 percent.(17)

To use a screening tool in which applicants cannot manipulate the results is desirable. to disguise an individual's handwriting gains the writer nothing since the writer's personality still expresses itself by hundreds of different variables consistent with the personality of the writer.

Dr. Judith Ettinger of Handwriting Research Corporation in Phoenix, AZ, says of those who attempt to disguise their handwriting, "Individual typically alter the size of the writing, the slant, or perhaps the speed, but all other handwriting variables stay constant While writers concentrate on changing their slant, for example, they forget to do their i's, which most people normally do. In fact, the reason forgers are caught is they cannot remove all traces of their personality, (handwriting style) even when forging something as brief as someone else's name."

Use as an interrogation and investigation tool. Graphology reports provide insight into the thinking, motivations, social behaviors, values and emotional makeup of the writer. The assessment can serve as an added tool during interrogations, questioning and legal proceedings. In situations where those under investigation cannot be subjected to personality testing - that is, death, missing persons, psychological trauma, court cases and unwilling or unable to cooperate - a handwriting sample from an earlier time period is generally not difficult to obtain.

As a research device, handwriting samples from known mass murderers, embezzlers, and kidnappers can be collected and evaluated to determine how they differ psychologically from the population and each other. This information can provide investigator with a broader perspective of the psychological characteristic of specific criminal types and facilitate the tracking of suspect.

A safety and security manager at a company of 3,000 employees said, "I was skeptical about handwriting analysis, but when cash was stolen from one of the offices over a weekend, I decided to try it. I sent handwriting samples from six employees in the department, along with samples from 10 security officers who had been on duty at the time. Because we use a contract guard service that does polygraph testing, I was able to corroborate the handwriting analysis of the security officers with the results of the polygraphs. There was a close correlation."(18)

Evaluating high-security clearance individuals. As a preventive measure, profiling high-security clearance individuals using graphology makes good sense. This can include evaluating anyone who has access to confidential information, VIP's and dangerous equipment. The CIA, for example, reportedly requires some of its overseas agents to submit for analysis the handwritten New Year's cards they receive from certain individuals.(19)

Evaluating changes in an individual's personality over time. Handwriting samples written from different times can be evaluated to reveal a person's state of mind at the time of writing. With writing samples over time, changes or trends in a person's character can also be determined. No other psychological assessment tool can offer this. Uses include measuring changes in various mental and emotional disturbances, the maturation of employees, or an evaluation both before and after a crime to measure changes in the suspects' personality.

Says a manager of safety, security, and industrial hygiene for a large south-western corporation, "I use handwriting analysis to focus on a suspect without violating his or her privacy."

In one instance, the manager submitted handwriting samples of a newly hired security officer who appeared to be involved n a theft. The initial analysis showed the officer to be open and honest but under a great deal of stress. When subsequent samples showed his stress level declining, however, the security manager was able to correlate it to the officer's increasing comfort with his job and rule him out as a suspect during the investigation. "With this tool," he explains, "I can better focus my investigation and spend my time and priorities more wisely."(20)

Use in team-building and job promotion considerations. Today's companies realize the importance of building strong work teams. Employers recognize that if productivity is to be high, workers must be compatible not only with the corporate culture and their coworkers, but that an employee's personality must mesh with the job responsibilities.

Graphology reports can provide management, the team as a whole, and individual members of the team with insight into individual and team effectiveness. Reports provide insight as to what each member brings to the group, exposing behaviors that enhance as well as those most likely to detract from team goals.

Graphology reports are also used as a tool for self-improvement, to counsel employees in ways designated to enhance performance, an to overcome depression or conflicts with others. Bell Atlantic Corporation, for example, occasionally uses graphology in self-improvement activities for its managers.(21) Uncovering the sometimes hidden positives may motivate a stagnant employee to greater production. Expose hidden negatives can be confronted and dealt with by management.

As a tool for promotional consideration, a handwriting analysis report offers the employer insight into how the employee will react and cope with different job settings, people, and responsibilities. A 16-year research project directed by psychologist Dr. Herb Greenberg involved approximately 350,000 personnel from 7,000 corporations. Discovered was that personality is the single most important factor in job success, not age, gender, race, education, or experience.

Graphology uniquely offers a personality profile that objectively evaluates individuals based on who they are. It profiles their uniqueness and identifies the type of working conditions in which the person will be happy and productive, as well as identifying the person's topics of weakness.

Evaluating threatening or anonymous letters. Unlike any other technique, an analysis of threatening or anonymous letters can often reveal the seriousness of the threat and personality make up of the author. Analysis results may reveal that a death threat was produce by an immature, passive-aggressive type who is unlikely to act on his or her threat or may reveal the suspect to be cunning, highly unstable, and explosively angry.

In cases where the handwritten threat is the only clue, an analysis can prove invaluable is not only understanding the mentality of the author but also may provide clues in directing the search. For example, it is not uncommon to speculate with reasonable accuracy the career or background of the writer through an analysis of the handwriting. Compare the scrawled and speedy script of physician with that of an office receptionist who carefully crafts each letter as an example.

Use Properly, Handwriting Analysis as an employee screening tool can provide a preventive measure to security concerns. In instances where personnel problems already exist, handwriting analysis can, undetected, identify where personality problems lie.

In any situation where security personnel would benefit from knowing more about an individual or a group of individuals, handwriting analysis may be an option.

In the final analysis, people determine a successful loss prevention program. Hidden cameras, electronic article surveillance systems, uniformed security officers, impervious locks, and barbed fences are all valuable tools for the security trade, but to have the capability to have insight into personnel might be one of the most valuable tools of all.

(1) R.U. Risklep, "To Land a Position in Paris, Penmanship Can be Paramount," The Wall Street Journal, September 3,1985, p.1. (2) T. Lewinson,"The Use of Handwriting Analysis as a Psychodiagnostic Technique," Journal of Projective Technique, Vol 25 (1961), pp. 315-329; B. Nevo, ed. Scientific Aspects of Graphology: A Handbook. (Springfield, IL: Charles C Thomas, 1987); T. Walner, [Remarks concerning W.H. Mueller's investigation on the objectivity of impressive qualities in handwriting.] Psychologische Beitrage, Vol. 5 (1961), pp. 586-596. (3) "Handwriting Analysis Separates the Innocent from the Guilty,"Corporate Security, May 1988, p.2 (4) Risklep, "To Land a Position in Paris, Penmanship Can be Paramount," p. 1 (5) Michael J. McCarthy, "Handwriting Analysis as Personnel Tool," The Wall Street Journal, August 25, 1988, p. 1. (6) C. Fleenor and Associates, "A Handwriting Analysis,"Business Horizons, Vol. 32 (January-February 1989), pp. 41-43 (7) K. Roman, Handwriting: A Key to Personality, 6th ed. (New York: Noonday, 1968), pp. 3-30. (8) L. Klages, Die Probleme der Graphologie (Leipzig, Germany: 1910); L. Klages, Ausdrucksbewegung und Gesteltungskraft (Leipzig, Germany: 1913); and L. Klages, Handschrft und, Charakter, 18th ed. (Leipzig, Germany: Johann Barth, 1940). (9) G.N. Allport and P.E. Vernon, Studies in Expressive Movement (New York: Macmillan, 1933). (10) J. Crumbaugh, "Graphoanalytic Cues," Scientific Aspects of Graphology: A Handbook B. Nevo, ed (Springfield, IL: Charles C Thomas, 1980). (11) United States v. Dionisio, 410 US 1 (1973). (12) United States v. Rosinsky, F.R. P249, F2d No. 2, March 7, 1977. (13) Gilbert v. California, 388 US 263 (1967). (14) Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Uniform guidelines on employee selection procedures. 43 Fed Reg. 38290, 1978. (15) McCarthy, "Handwriting Analysis as Personnel Tool," p. 1. (16) Risklep, "To Land a Position in Paris, Penmanship Can be Paramount," p. 1. (17) Jeanette Farmer, "The Potential of Handwriting Analysis as a Security Tool," Security Management, March 1980, pp. 84-90. (18) Handwriting Analysis Separates the Innocent from the Guilty,"Corporate Security, May 1988, p. 2) (19) "Graphology: The Power of the Written Word,"Economist (UK), June 1990, pp. 997-998. (20)"Handwriting Analysis Separates the Innocent from Guilty," p. 2. (21) McCarthy, "Handwriting Analysis as Personnel Tool,"p. 1.
COPYRIGHT 1992 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Title Annotation:handwriting analysis
Author:Hopper, Mark A.; Stanford, Karen S.
Publication:Security Management
Date:May 1, 1992
Previous Article:Writing it right.
Next Article:Buttoning up communications.

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