I have always loved a handwritten note. I have to admit my heart beats a little faster when I see a personalized letter slide out of a pile of catalogs and grocery store sale flyers in my mailbox. Better yet, when I recognize the handwriting and can't wait to read the message inside. A handwritten letter always gets my attention. Marketing companies also realize this phenomenon. Have you ever been fooled by a printed font that imitates handwriting and then feel disappointed when you realize it's really just a marketing letter? This got me thinking that there is more here than meets the eye. What is it about a handwritten letter that makes us FEEL something? I have come to believe that there is an energy and emotion that is conveyed in our handwriting which is felt and received by the recipient.
I decided to do some research on the topic and came across an article by Psychology Today called "The lowdown on handwriting analysis" in which the authors discuss meeting with a graphologist (graphology is "the study of handwriting when regarded as an expression of the writer's character" according to Dictionary.com) and share some of the psychology behind handwriting. The graphologist, Andrea McNichol, explains why it is not taken seriously here in the US and offers some compelling examples of how handwriting can be a 'window into the conscious and subconscious mind'. She gives some specific examples about handwriting and how it links to certain personality traits (For instance, some of the variables she considers are handwriting slants [left, right, or vertical}, pressure [firm, medium or soft] and letter spacing [wide or crowded]). She uses many more examples but what really caught my attention was when she cited studies in which paralyzed people were taught to use a device in their mouths and were able to completely recreate their original handwriting. This is significant because it illustrates that handwriting is actually coming from your brain, not your hands! Interesting, right? Maybe this would explain why we feel a connection when we read a handwritten note!
O.K., some of you may be feeling a bit skeptical here. I certainly have come across as many articles that were pro graphology as I did the ones that were against it. For example, Quackwatch.org has an article called "How Graphology Fools People". It is a well written and comprehensive article that claims there is no empirical evidence to back this as a science and compares it to palm reading or astrology. I think the author was trying to dispute its scientific use (For example, using graphology to determine whether or not a person is employable or in determining if someone had committed a crime.). I agree with him in the sense that it would be irresponsible to use this as a sole predictor for anything but I find it undeniable that you make certain observations when regarding someone's handwriting. For instance, have you ever seen handwriting that is shaky and guessed that perhaps it's author may have been of advanced age? You can easily identify children's handwriting, as well.
O.k, so I think you can get information from handwriting that you could not get from type but what about emotions? Are we also receiving emotional information? Think about the handwriting of someone you are familiar with. It evokes a feeling, right? Whether or not you view this as a piece of the scientific puzzle or not, you can still get more visual clues and information than you get from type. Have you ever seen the handwriting of someone who is really angry (or have you ever written a note when angry)? I would bet there is more hand pressure applied!
I researched emotions and handwriting and there is a ton of information out there but I came across a particularly touching article from World of Psychology on Psych Central entitled " Can Handwriting Foster Emotions and Relationships" in which the author, Eve Hogan, talks about unearthing letters from old friends or even a loved one who has passed away and how seeing that familiar handwriting can actually bring that person to life in a way that emails can not. I, personally, can relate to this. I tend to save and cherish handwritten letters. If someone took that kind of time out of their day to write a special message, I find it hard to part with. Every so often, when cleaning things out, I come across those letters and re-read them and find myself lost in that moment and sentiment for a while. Often, they bring back feelings and memories that neither a picture nor an email can. A person's individual handwriting does somehow capture their essence.
This felt like a timely post with holiday cards right around the corner. While I am not suggesting that you sit down and write 100 handwritten notes, it is a great time of year to take stock of all the people you care about. Moved by this sentiment, I created some eye-catching holiday- themed envelope templates on my Etsy shop here. Maybe this will inspire you to write someone and share a little piece of your heart! A pure, simple way of communicating and who knows, maybe even a treasured keepsake for years to come!!