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AcinonyxScepticus (December 19, 2008, 09:22:22 AM):
I have before me a 140-page book by Barbara Hill titled Handwriting Analysis.

That is possibly the book that I read in high school, although it is hard to remember all the books I read in standard 7 (grade 9). I can't find a picture of the cover online to confirm it but I think that it was possibly that one.

Hmm, blast from the past. :)

James
Rigil Kent (December 19, 2008, 09:50:52 AM):
I too own a book on Graphology by one Michael Watts BSc. (blushing smiley not found).

(BTW, James, would you concede that our lavish use of these little text add-ons implies that we believe our reader to be fluent in the language of facial expression?)

When reading it in the early 90's I remember being fascinated by the concept, but alas, could also not find any clear reason why "persistent types" would necessarily make loopy A's.

Cheers,
Mintaka

PS. I have to agree also with 'Luthon64 that it is a question of degrees, and that the amount of detail a practitioner can extract is limited. (sorry for this late edit - had to go look up platitudinous first!)
Tweefo (December 19, 2008, 12:55:08 PM):
Slightly off topic here but what is the story about body language to the point where they can tell if you are not telling the truth? You glance to your upper left or something just before you say it?
AcinonyxScepticus (December 19, 2008, 17:09:01 PM):
... blushing smiley not found ...

(Twelfth one along, hover to get the names.)

BTW, James, would you concede that our lavish use of these little text add-ons implies that we believe our reader to be fluent in the language of facial expression?

Yes, humans have a very real need for interpreting tone and mood from facial expressions, that is why emoticons are so frequently used in SMS, eMail and online fora.

But my full reply will pretty-much echo 'Luthon. You can possibly tell by looking at one sample of writing what a person's state of mind is (should there be big letters and puncture holes where the pen was driven through the paper it should be a good clue that the person is a little upset). But what graphologists are claiming is that analysing the writing can reveal personality traits that extend over a longer period than just the moment that the person wrote the sample.

Similarly, when you said (my emphasis):
We rely on facial expressions, tone of voice and the gestures of our fellow man as clues to his state of mind, his personality, or even his expected actions...
you were implying that by analysing a trend of facial expressions in someone you can tell their personality. This is, again, extrapolating from the instance of the facial expression (the same as the instance of the writing) to a personality trait which is not valid. If it was the case, do you think that doctors should prescribe anti-depressants based on a scale where they count frown lines to deduce how long depression has been ongoing?

In conclusion; writing analysis may tell you someone's mood in that moment and facial analysis can determine mood in that moment (as long as it is obvious enough - refer to the study I posted earlier) but neither of these can tell you a person's personality over a long period. If you try to make such a diagnosis, as 'Luthon pointed-out, you would then be opening the diagnosis up to the Forer effect.

James
AcinonyxScepticus (December 19, 2008, 17:29:58 PM):
Slightly off topic here but what is the story about body language to the point where they can tell if you are not telling the truth? You glance to your upper left or something just before you say it?


If you watch Derren Browne, he would want you to think this is true. But even he (a mental illusionist) distanced himself from NLP when directly asked if he was making any claims about reading cues whether someone was lying from a subject's face. So, noticing the direction in which a person's eyes are looking for lie detection is a claim made by Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) practitioners. NLP has become something of a pop-psychology phenomenon. There are only a few real psychological effects which underly NLP, but these were a launching point for diversion into all sorts of extraordinary claims. I am not aware of this being a real field in psychology - it is something used to sell self-help books and lecture tours. I was curious about NLP a few years ago and I have a book on the subject so I'll scratch my head really hard to see if I can remember what was in there.

As I recall, there is a chart of the face used to determine what a person is thinking about. If a person is right-handed and they are looking at you as they talk, then looking to the left (your left) is an imagined experience while looking to the right (your right) is a remembered experience. For left handed people it is swapped (usually ... but who knows? pretty much throw your hands up and guess which side is which) but even if they don't follow this pattern they are still consistent (one side is always for imagination and the other side is always for memory). If you wanted to discover which side is which for someone in particular, do not explain what you are doing but start asking a range of memory and imagination questions to get a baseline. But if we're talking about this as a lie detection technique, remember, if the person doesn't have to think hard about something then the eyes will not move in this way (so if you are practising the lie; "no officer, I was at my office, not at the Pietersons' house disembowelling them" then there is no need to imagine a response on the spot - a rather fatal flaw for a lie-detection technique).

Memories and imagined scenarios can be visual (you remember the colour of the door at the house you lived in when you were six or think hard about a view on an imaginary planet), auditory (you remember a song or you imagine a conversation with a dead celebrity) or kinaesthetic (tactile - how cold was the pool you learned to swim in or imagine having your hair removed one follicle at a time). Strangely taste (gustatory), smell (olfactory) and emotions are combined with the kinaesthetic which does not have "imagined" and "remembered", it just is. Each of the three types (V, A, K) are given a position by your eyes, a subject looking straight left or right is either imagining or remembering sound while looking down and left is experiencing taste, touch, mood and looking up and to the left or right is either imagining or remembering visual information. The down-right position is used for internal dialogue. Some mentalist magicians have said that they use these sorts of techniques in the old guessing game of "remember some event from your past that I couldn't know about". They then make an educated guess and fill-in details using cold-reading techniques. For example; "Yes, I'm there with you, the colours in the room were bright" ... wait for settling-down after the reaction ... "there was a comforting, familiar smell" ... wait again ... "you were in a kitchen" ... start cold reading.

Now this is where it gets even more vague and drifts further into pseudo-science: each person has a tendency to be "visual", "auditory" or "kinaesthetic". They say (I hate that expression: "they say" - who?) that if you think about a memory and the first thing that comes to you is the sound then you are "auditory" - and I'm sure you can figure out the others. Also, they claim that if you talk and mostly say "look here..." or "see what I mean?" then you are "visual" whereas saying "listen up ..." or "doesn't sound right" is an "auditory" dominance. If you "feel" a lot in your conversations then you are "kinaesthetic". These are all utterly ridiculous. You start listening to yourself speak and you start remembering the hits and forgetting the misses - there is nothing scientific about labelling yourself "auditory", "visual" or "kinaesthetic".

With all that said; the reason you have heard that people lie when they look up and to the left is if they are imagining a visual scene to lie about - that applies to many people, they claim, because most people are right-handed and most people are "visual".

Speaking of mental illusionists, in an interview Banachek gave this explanation about "mind reading" and the predictability of thought patterns (from an SGU interview released in July 2008):
Quote from: Banachek at timestamp 00:42:46
A husband and a wife are sitting on a park bench, a pretty girl goes jogging by, the husband turns his head and looks, the wife slaps the husband in the face. Okay? You know what the husband was thinking, you know what the wife was thinking. You haven't read their minds but you have read their thoughts. Now I always tell people; I don't read minds, I read thoughts.


Quote from: Banachek at timestamp 00:43:07
If I say "Dolly Parton", what two things come to mind?


Yeah, right, "singer songwriter".


It may sound like I didn't give a definite answer to your question; that's because I can't. I don't know enough to tell you if there is a reliable technique for lie-detection from visual cues, but I suspect that if it exists, it is not nearly as simple as the NLP explanation.

James

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