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June 9, 2020

Determining A Person’s Handedness By Analysing Their Handwriting

According to research, about 10% of the entire population is left-handed. Scientists have long been interested in knowing what makes some people write using their left hand even though the majority of the population is right-handed. During the ancient civilisations, people would actually think of left-handedness as something of a devil sign.

As a matter of fact, scientific research has long been exploring this theme and has attempted several times to look for a connection between unusual behaviour and left-handedness, but with no success.

If we look at the names of famous people who are left-handed, it’s clear that this trait is more likely linked to high intellect. Some of the famous personalities who are left-handed are Leonardo da Vinci, Bill Gates, and Marie Curie.

Handwriting Analysis

At Investigators Australia, one of the things that we do is to conduct an analysis of handwriting and signatures. For example, we have handwriting experts who are able to study and examine a handwritten will, even if it’s written in cursive.

Another case may involve examining a bill of sale or handwritten contract. Sometimes, questions arise regarding anonymous notes that are sexually threatening in nature or those that contain harassing messages. In some instances, investigators may be asked to examine bank robbery notes. They can also analyse numeric entries on accounting ledgers and timesheets.

The materials to be compared and analysed will vary depending on the type of writing that’s involved. For instance, you’ve received a letter of harassment. If the address happens to be handwritten, the investigator will conduct an investigation by analysing the handwriting in hopes of uncovering the person behind it. We have investigators who are experts at analysing handwriting and are able to identify certain features in writing that can uncover the person behind the harassment.

Around 2004, I conducted a test on about 300 left-handed writers in order to figure out whether the way a left-handed individual holds their pens will affect their writing’s stroke direction. I also wanted to know if the results of my writing could replicate the data provided by the research above even though the main subjects of my study were all Australians.

None of the results were clear, but I’ve noticed one result that’s more pronounced. The results of my experiment were somewhat the same to the subjects from the UK study when it comes to the stroke directions.

Also, the hook-handed position of holding the pen doesn’t have any significant effects on the frequency of left-handed strokes that can help to distinguish left-handers from right-handers.

Identifying whether the handwriting is written by someone left-handed or right-handed based on stroke direction is an important tool that an investigator can use to determine whether a particular handwriting or signature is forged.

Handwriting Comparisons

When it comes to analysing handwriting, forensic experts may need to carry out in-depth analysis in order to figure out the rare or common ways in which each number or letter might be written based on experience, although there are not enough tools that can measure the accuracy of these assessments.

But not everything is bad news. In the past few decades, there have been several validation tests made to establish that the final conclusions that experts made have relatively fewer mistakes, in terms of properly identifying the writer behind the document in question.

There are two issues that forensic experts have to deal with when it comes to analysing the different designs of letters. One is that it usually a large number of assessments from different experts is required before the results are considered reliable. Also, these results have to be compared to a reliable set of proven data.

The second issue that these experts have to deal with is that any data that shows what’s common or rare has to be current and this can be a real problem if the handwriting has been affected by the changing nature of what’s considered as handwriting and also the effects of ageing and migration.

But there’s one area where both variables have a lower effect. Previous research done in the UK by some researchers has shown that there’s a huge difference between the pen stroke directions of right-handed and left-handed individuals, regardless of their educational attainment and age.

The research shows that left-handed individuals are more likely to create cross strokes in the right direction to the left. Also, left-handed writers tend to write circular numbers and letters in clockwise strokes instead of counter-clockwise.

For instance, on the cross strokes of letters T, J, A, and the cursive letter t, it’s found that around 58 to 76 percent of left-hand writers write from left to right depending on the letter’s formation. This is a higher proportion when compared to that of the right-handed individuals.

However, the study didn’t include any material about the possible effect of the hand and arm position in this data. It’s a common notion that left-handed writers are known to use different hand and arm positions while they are holding their pen.

There are those who hold the pen in a “hooked hand” position in such a way that the pen faces them. It’s been said that the main differences between right and left-hand writers may have something to do with this peculiar position of the hand.

Here’s a picture of a hook-handed leftie:

Throughout our many years of working as private investigators, it’s common to hear from our clients that the person behind the note they are trying to analyse may be left-handed. This is especially true if the handwriting is in cursive. Sometimes, they say that an elderly person might have written it and maybe the person is a female.

But the reality is, there are left-handed individuals that are capable of writing in a right-handed slant while there are also right-handed people who can write with a left-handed slant. And if particular handwriting is shaky, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the person behind it was old. Also, cursive text that’s skilfully written doesn’t always mean that the writer is female.

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