meye1816: November 2011 Archives


What if someone told you that they would know everything about your personality by just looking at your handwriting or your signature? Would you believe them?

Graphologists claim that they can uncover characteristics of one's personality by looking at one's handwriting. They use the study of graphology or the psychological interpretation of handwriting. They have whole glossaries that tell what characteristics of handwriting demonstrate which traits. For example, forgetting to cross one's T demonstrates that the person is forgetful or absentminded. A full glossary of these handwriting characteristics and their traits can be found here.

This method of determining personality should be evaluated using the Six Principles of Scientific Thinking before we consider the claim to be fact. The principle we should use is the principle of Extraordinary Claims. This principle states that extraordinary claims must be supported by a lot of evidence before we believe them.

Graphologists say that they can tell one's personality traits by looking at his/her handwriting, and they say they can predict job performance. However, when comparing the results of graphologists to other personality tests, their findings didn't match up. And there is almost no evidence that supports the claim that graphology can predict job performance. (The article that demonstrates this research can be found here)

In order to further evaluate the method of graphology, we must also look at two important criteria used for evaluating all tests. The first is reliability. It refers to the consistency of measurement or if a test will produce the same results when taken a second time. The second criterion is validity or the extent to which a test measures what is says it is going to measure.animated.gif

Researchers have found that graphology has low reliability. They discovered this by giving professional graphologists the same handwriting to evaluate multiple times. However, they told the graphologists that is was a different person every time, and the graphologists produced different results each time. Researchers have also found that its validity is close to zero.

So from evaluating graphology scientifically, we have come to realize that there is not enough evidence to support the claim that graphologists can decipher personality traits from handwriting. We have also come to realize that graphology is low in reliability and validity, therefore graphology is not a good test for determining personality traits.

- "Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding" Textbook

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Blame Your Parents

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baby-headphones.jpgDon't you wish you were a little smarter? Who doesn't? You can only blame your parents for your lack of intelligence. If only they would have had you listen to Mozart as a baby, then you would be getting an "A" in psychology and finding cures to cancer.

An article that was published in the journal Nature declared that college students who listened to Mozart improved their scores on spatial reasoning tasks. This became known as the Mozart Effect, and companies went wild. They made CD's for babies and claimed that listening to classical music would boost their intelligence. One website that advertises such products is

However, more recent research has revealed that there is no such "Mozart Effect". The original finding in 1993 was used on college students and did not imply that the effects could be generalized to babies. It also did not say that it would result in the long-term enhancement of intelligence. This can be further explained here.

The Mozart Effect can be evaluated using the Six Principles of Scientific Thinking. First, the principle of Replicability can be used. Researchers had a difficult time replicating the original findings of the study in 1993. Many couldn't find the effect, and others found that its effects were trivial or were of short duration. So because the results of the original experiment could not be duplicated, its findings cannot be considered reliable.

The second Principle of Scientific Thinking that can be used to evaluate the Mozart Effect is Occam's Razor. This principle looks for a simpler explanation of the data. Researchers have suggested that the Mozart Effect may be due to a greater state of arousal found after listening to the music. Anything that boosts one's arousal or alertness, will likely increase his/her performance on a mentally demanding task.

Because the original findings of the Mozart Effect cannot be replicated, and because a simpler explanation fits the data, we can declare the claims of the Mozart Effect to be unreliable. We can no longer look to blame our parents for failing to play Mozart for us; they knew all along that listening to classical music wouldn't help us in the long run.

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"Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding" Textbook

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This page is an archive of recent entries written by meye1816 in November 2011.

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