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Researcher seeking twins for study

A scientist and professor at UW-Superior is looking for sets of identical twins for a study that he hopes will link handwriting to personality and personality to genes. Dr. Bob Morden, professor in biology at UWS, teaches graphology -- the study ...

A scientist and professor at UW-Superior is looking for sets of identical twins for a study that he hopes will link handwriting to personality and personality to genes. Dr. Bob Morden, professor in biology at UWS, teaches graphology -- the study of how the brain expresses itself through writing on a page. The slant, the spacing, the size of the letters all give clues to a person's personality and behavioral tendencies, says Morden. "Handwriting does show information about the behavior of the individual," he said.
Since identical twins have very similar genes, Morden has developed a written test to measure the similarities in their handwriting and thereby add to the body of information of how emotions affect changes in handwriting. "I'd like to use identical twins as the genetic basis to explain graphology, which is a behavioral expression of genes," Morden said. "I'm trying to tie genetics with behavior."
Graphology is the study of spatial relationships of handwriting on a page. It's also the study of doodles or anything else that's written down on a piece of paper. "Your mind is trying to express itself, and it will express itself on a written page," Morden said. "We all fit into our environment in a certain way. And that's pretty predictable. On a written page it's the same thing. Your mind tries to make your written material fit in a certain way: where you put the material on the page, if you leave margins wide or narrow, if lines go up or down, or if you slant your lines in a certain way. Some people write small, others write big. And that reflects a little bit about who they are and how the mind expresses itself."
Morden will take scientific measurements of various aspects of the handwriting of twins to see if similarities are present in spacing, in letter size and in letter formation. He will also measure changes in those aspects of writing when different emotions are present, even flipping the page over to measure how hard they press down while writing.
It's all part of an attempt to show how predictable handwriting analysis is, and how genes may play a role. While some still view handwriting analysis as a parlor game, graphology is becoming more respected and is finding its way into the mainstream. Even though he teaches biology, Morden teaches graphology in the school of business. "Ninety percent of the industry in France will use graphology to screen candidates (for a job)," Morden said. "We're doing it more and more here because it's becoming more recognized in its predictability."
Morden heard about handwriting analysis back in the late 1950s. He said it intrigued him, and he decided to learn more about it. Since then, Morden has read many books on the subject and has become convinced that words on a page can say a whole lot more about the writer than the subject of the writing. He can spot dishonesty, depression, social tendencies, self-esteem problems, apprehension and even marital trouble just by looking at handwriting.
If handwriting can be linked to behavior, and if Morden finds the similarities he's looking for in the handwriting of identical twins, he will be able to make that link between genes and behavior. It's a link Morden and other scientists believe exists but haven't been able to prove scientifically because behavior is so hard to measure. Since handwriting can easily be measured and studied, graphology may be the answer scientists are looking for. "I wanted to bring it more into the scientific area," Morden said. "People don't believe that our behavior is encoded in the genes. But it's as much encoded in our genes as our physiology, our chemistry and anything else."
Morden believes as much as 96 percent of all behavior is encoded in our genetic makeup. To work toward proving that, he needs sets of identical twins to volunteer. A small monetary stipend will cover transportation costs. He's hoping for 15 sets of twins so he can finish his study by April. The written test would take about half an hour. If interested, contact Dr. Bob Morden at 394-8159.

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