According to handwriting analyst Fiona Mackay, a signature “is how you want to be seen” consciously and unconsciously. It’s “your public face” and your calling card. Peoples’ signatures change over their lifetimes and it is common to use different signatures for various functions; like signing a mortgage, a check, a love letter or birthday card.
The art of interpreting handwriting called graphology has been controversial for the past century. Despite its persistent popularity, most research does not support its validity. A 1982 meta-analysis of over 200 studies concluded that graphology could not accurately predict performance on any personality measure. The British Psychological Society likened graphology to astrology and considers both of them to have “zero validity.”
Despite the lack of evidence, many interpretations are based on common sense. Writers Hugh Wilson and Ruby Ernica Samy have each compiled interpretations of the most common variables, including:
1. Size: Large signatures indicate confidence and a high opinion of one’s self. An extremely oversized signature or one in all capitals may reflect arrogance and exhibitionistic tendencies. Small size suggests shyness, low self-esteem and a wish not to be noticed.
2. Underlining: Short and straight underlining suggests self-reliance but an unassuming manner. Showy underlines reflect attention-seeking tendencies, while thick underlining may indicate a need for stability. Zig-zag underlines reveal uncertainty.
3. Slant: Signatures that slant to the right suggest aggressive confrontation of the world while a slant to the left suggests disengagement and nonconformity.
4. Rising or Falling: A signature that rises suggests optimism and the ability to meet challenges. A falling or declining signature indicates the opposite — pessimism and depression. Level signatures indicate emotional stability.
5. Legibility: Legible text followed by scrawled signature suggests a reluctance to reveal oneself. Overall legibility suggests a straightforward manner. It may also imply a lack of assertiveness and modesty. Signatures that are hard to read reflect intelligence and fast thinking.