For ages experts and laymen have been analyzing and trying to crack the code of handwriting characteristics, in order to detect an individual's personality traits, or in most cases, gauge their innocence in the case of a crime. Although this science has often gone the way of pseudoscience, researchers are now discovering that with the aid of a computerized tool, handwriting characteristics can be measured more effectively.
The research, headed by Gil Luria and Sara Rosenblum at the University of Haifa, is published in an upcoming issue of Applied Cognitive Psychology.
The researchers utilized a computerized tablet that measured the physical properties of the subject's handwriting, which are difficult to consciously control (for example: the duration of time that the pen is on paper versus in the air, the length height and width of each writing stroke, the pressure implemented on the writing surface). They have found that these handwriting characteristics differ when an individual is in the process of writing deceptive sentences as opposed to truthful sentences.
The handwriting tool has the potential to replace, or work in tandem, with popular, verbal-based lie detection technology such as the polygraph to ensure greater accuracy and objectivity in law enforcement deception detection. Additionally, polygraphs are often intrusive to the subject and sometimes inconclusive. The handwriting tool therefore provides ease and increased accuracy over common, verbal-based methods. Source
The follow-up article.
(PhysOrg.com) -- Forget about unreliable polygraph lie detectors for identifying liars. A new study claims the best way to find out if someone is a liar is to look at their handwriting, rather than analyzing their word choice, eye movements and body language.
The study by Gil Luria and Sara Rosenblum from the University of Haifa in Israel, tested 34 volunteers, who were each asked to write two stories using a system called ComPET (Computerized Penmanship Evaluation Tool), which comprises a piece of paper positioned on a computer tablet and a wireless electronic pen with a pressure-sensitive tip. Using the system, the subjects wrote one paragraph about a true memory, and one that was made up.
The researchers analyzed the writing and discovered that in the untrue paragraphs the subjects on average pressed down harder on the paper and made significantly longer strokes and taller letters than in the true paragraphs. The differences were not visible to the eye, but were detectable by computer analysis. There were no differences in writing speed.
The scientists suggest that handwriting changes because the brain is forced to work harder since it is inventing information, and this interferes with normal writing.
People hesitate when they lie, Dr Richard Wiseman, a psychology professor at the University of Hertfordshire told the Daily Mail, and some companies use this knowledge to check how long people take to tick boxes in online surveys. The new research is promising, he said, but needs larger scale testing.
The study was published in the Applied Cognitive Psychology journal. Research is in its early stages but ComPET could one day find practical application in testing the truthfulness of handwritten insurance claims or loan applications, or in handwriting tests during job interviews. Handwriting analyses could also be combined with lie detectors to identify whether or not people were lying. Source
Anonymous. 2009. "Handwriting-based tool offers alternate lie detection method". Physorg.com. August 28th, 2009. Available online: http://www.physorg.com/news170657732.html
Edwards, Lin. 2009. "The Handwriting of Liars". Physorg.com.September 21st, 2009. Available online: http://www.physorg.com/news172742715.html
Both articles were derived from: Gil Luria and Sara Rosenblum."Comparing the handwriting behaviours of true and false writing with computerized handwriting measures" Applied Cognitive Psychology, DOI: 10.1002/acp.1621 Available online (for cost): http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/acp.1621 Published Online: 28 Aug 2009.