Why do Females and Males Have Different Handwriting Styles?

If you were to ask a random person which gender had, “better” or “more legible” handwriting one could assume a typical answer would be females have more legible handwriting.  This is most likely due to the social stereotype that women have neater handwriting, and that men are quite sloppy when in that department.  But after thinking about people’s possible responses, I decided to research why people think this and to discover if there is empirical evidence backing the notion that females truly do have neater, or at least different handwriting than males.

handwriting_erik[1]

http://www.themaninblue.com/articles/handwritten_typographers/

I found an experiment performed by John R. Beech from the University of Leicester, in which participants had to guess the gender of the author of random writing questionnaires based upon their handwriting.  Overall 65.67% of the males handwriting was identified correctly, and 66.08% of the females handwriting was identified correctly.  So overall the majority of the time people could correctly indicate which gender was behind the handwriting.  Within the results of the experiment, multiple mechanisms were identified to explain why men hand women have different distinct handwriting styles.  One mechanism was the different physical features of men and women.  On average the males in the study had bigger hands than the females, and their second finger tends to be relatively shorter than their fourth finger possibly resulting in a different writing style.  Although, those who judged the handwriting were given criteria to rate the quality of writing on a scale of 1-5, and both genders writing on average resulted in a 3.  This highlights the fact that females handwriting is not necessarily neater than males, yet they can still be differentiated from each other.  Another mechanism is that women have prenatal hormones that cause for more “feminine” handwriting which on average contained more curved and bowed-out letters rather than straight.

 

After further research I discovered the pseudoscience of graphology.  Graphologists allegedly claim to be able to determine people’s entire situation based on patterns displayed in their handwriting.  Everything from the lines they use to how they space out paragraphs is taken into consideration by the graphologists.  From this the graphologists can determine a persons psychological state, current social situation, and even there current state of health.  For example, a graphologist may say someone who has large spaces between their words and letters may be an introvert and isolate themselves from other people because they are afraid of close proximity and intimacy.

Now obviously graphology is still a pseudoscience because no one can prove what graphologists say about handwriting is a direct result of the happenings in a persons life.  Some scientists such as Barry Beyerstein, a psychology professor and science skeptic at Simon Fraser University, claimed graphology was nothing more than, “sympathetic magic”.

Despite all of the skepticism behind the notions of graphology, I believe the underlying concept of graphology could relate to why people can tell the difference between a male and a females handwriting.  As I stated earlier stereotypically women are expected to be neater, cleaner, and have a feminine aspect to their daily lives.  Because of these notions, women may subconsciously apply this to their handwriting in order to satisfy this expectation.  Men on the other hand are thought to be more careless in regards to being neat, presentable etc. and it is socially acceptable for men to be this way.  Therefore subconsciously they do not apply this to their handwriting and therefore have a different style then women, who may feel they need to write a certain way.  This is all just a hypothesis based on the notions of graphology, but I feel this could be another mechanism as to why men and women have different handwriting.

8 thoughts on “Why do Females and Males Have Different Handwriting Styles?

  1. Rebecca Aronow

    This blog post was so interesting! I’ve always wondered why women’s handwriting is typically neater (or maybe just viewed as neater) than men’s, and this post gave me new information that I didn’t know before, particularly the study and how hand / finger size relates to the neatness of one’s writing. However, the results of the study weren’t as drastic as I actually anticipated when I began reading about it, which makes me think that maybe women’s handwriting isn’t actually typically neater but it is just perceived as such because women are perceived as being neater than men. I thought your explanation of social norms influencing how women write versus how men write was really interesting as well. I tried looking up more scientific studies on this and there didn’t seem to be many that were helpful, so I’m curious if more people have tried to figure this out. Another thing about handwriting that this reminded me of, I’ve often found (I think this about my own handwriting) that many people dislike their own handwriting or think it’s messy but to another person their handwriting is beautiful / neat. I wonder if that’s because we’re overly critical of ourselves or if there’s something in the brain that makes us look at our own writing differently than we would look at someone else’s…

  2. Victor William Gregory

    I found this to be really interesting. I have always wondered why people write the way they do. Certain people whom you’d expect to have scribbled handwriting actually have calligraphic penmanship. I personally have horrific hand writing. I have seen three specialists to have them asses and aid me with my handwriting. It is much improved in comparison to where it once was, but my family still thinks I have the penmanship of a doctor. I feel that this also connects to a later post about left v. right hand writers. I think there is an interesting connection to be made between the two.

  3. Monica Lynn Powell

    This was a really good idea for a post! I agree with your conclusion that women may subconsciously put more effort into their handwriting because they think that it should look nice. I think I definitely do that. When taking notes in class, I tend to write slower to make sure my writing looks neat and organized. Having neat notes tends to help me study better. I wonder if their is any correlation with studying from neatly written notes to scribbled notes and grades? So many of my guy friends have horrible handwriting but when they take their time and concentrate, their handwriting looks just as nice as mine! Crazy what a little patience will do! I wonder what other differences there are between men and women that should be researched more to see the reasoning behind them. And just for fun, here’s a graphic to help you decipher what your handwriting says about you!

  4. Kacey Elizabeth Gill

    Hi Casey

    I really enjoyed this post because I can relate to it extremely well. Throughout high school one of my friends had the neatest handwriting I had ever seen; it was so neat that it could have passed for a Microsoft Word font. At the same time most of my guy friends had handwriting that wasn’t even legible. This of course adds to the stereotype that girls have neater handwriting. In spite of all this neat handwriting actually isn’t always better. Reading your post actually reminded me of this and I recall to this day, what my teacher once told me, that people with messier hand-writing tend to be more intelligent and creative. I think this would be an interesting topic to test and see whether they are correlated. The question is if messy handwriting is directly correlated to intelligence, if intelligence is reversely related to handwriting or if both are affected by a third variable.

  5. Sarah Elizabeth Read

    I really enjoyed this post! I’ve always been fascinated by handwriting and why there’s such a stereotype among guys and girls. This actually made me think about both of my grandpas. My dad’s dad has what many people would consider “chicken-scratch.” His handwriting is horrendous, but recently I found out that there’s a legitimate reason behind it. When he was in elementary school, he was naturally left-handed. Because times were so different back then, his teacher told him that being left-handed was not allowed. So he was forced to switch from using his left to using his right hand when writing. To this day, his handwriting is nearly impossible to read clearly. My other grandpa is an entirely different story as I have yet to see any handwriting as beautiful as his. Of course, this is not the norm. I do think that it’s a matter of how much one cares about their penmanship that determines the quality. In my case, this is evident in classes that I’m not as passionate about. The more I enjoy the class, the better quality of notes I’m going to end up with. This is truly interesting topic, and I’d love to look into it some more!

  6. Olivia Anne Browne

    Great post! Being a female I think I have decently neat handwriting in respect to male handwriting. Although, In high school my best guy friend had INSANELY neat handwriting, neater than anyone I had ever met before. It was so out of character also for him. He was a big football jock who wasn’t necessarily all into his ‘sharp appearance’ you would have never expected it. I do agree with all your points in regards to women having that predisposition to have the neater more clean handwriting! This is a very interesting topic and article and was extremely informative over all!
    Thanks!
    Heres a link about what your handwriting says about you!
    http://www.pens.com/handwriting-infographic/

    enjoy

  7. Sarah Tarczewski

    I enjoyed reading your article, however I am a woman with incredibly bad handwriting and I think I might fall in the small percentage of wrongly identified gender. As Lauren said above me, perhaps it has to do with the fact that I’m left handed. I’d be interested in finding out if that plays any considerable difference in handwriting, and how many people in that study were left handed. Or maybe, according to graphology, I’m just not a neat person. This wouldn’t necessarily be wrong!

  8. Lauren Elizabeth Mcgonigle

    It is very interesting to see the identifiable difference between male and female handwriting. Another variable that could be added to the study would be if the male or female was left or right handed. I think this may have a difference in the results because everyone always says left handed people are more creative and have a strong talent when it comes to art and neatness. It would be interesting to see if left handed males were identified as female handwriting in the study. I also believe that some men, based on their personalities, have to have neat and feminine handwriting and therefore would be an outlier in this study. Overall, very nice article, I would love to research this more.

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