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Is there any scientific study on handwriting by profession? In the whole world, the people with the most control of their muscles are athletes. Or pianists, who have extremely good control of their fingers. So perhaps their handwriting will be different from the average person?

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Short answer: Not really, because a) handwriting style is generally individual-dependent and not occupation-dependent, and b) the fine-motor skills responsible for handwriting legibility are specific enough to be near-independent of the muscle control that mandates one's success in athletics and/or music.

Detailed answer:

It is probably difficult to say anything definite about the variance in style of handwriting among profession, as handwriting style is something subjective. Furthermore, one's handwriting style is typically well-formed before the time of their occupation.

In terms of the objective nature of handwriting -- i.e. its legibility and general readability -- there tends to be a greater relationship with fine motor coordination. However, even then, the motor coordination is fairly specific to handwriting or letter generation. The ability to generate written text is largely dependent on orthographic-motor integration [1] and finger sequencing. [2] The latter variable may be practiced by musicians or certain athletes in specific sports, but these variables are by-and-large specific to handwriting and letter generation. In general, a greater indicator in how legible one's handwriting will be is how 'automatic' one's handwriting is. Thus, interventions that promote higher orthographic-motor integration tend to improve the 'automaticity' of one's handwriting, thus leading to better legibility and readability in their handwriting. [1] Again, these interventions are specific to handwriting, and general fine-motor skills typically do not affect this area.

You might also be interested to know that there is a field of study called graphology that attempts to analyze handwriting based on personality or personal characteristics, such as profession. However, it is largely regarded as a 'pseudoscientific' field due to its lack of reproducible research thus far. I mention this because a lot of the resources I found when looking up more information on this question came from books on graphology, and so I could not use them as scientific resources. :)


Sources used:

[1] Jones, Dian; Christensen, Carol A. (1999). Relationship between automaticity in handwriting and students' ability to generate written text. Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol 91(1), 44-49.

[2] Berninger, V.W.; B.J. Wolf (2009). Teaching students with dyslexia and dysgraphia: Lessons from teaching and science. Baltimore, Maryland: Paul H. Brooks Publishing Co. pp. 1–240.

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  • $\begingroup$ Hi @Sydney Maples, thanks for your answer! One part of your answer says, "these interventions are specific to handwriting, and general fine-motor skills typically do not affect this area". Could you elaborate more on why this is the case? I tried to go to the referenced article, but it needs to be purchased to be read. Thanks! =) $\endgroup$ – Yvonne Liew Aug 25 '15 at 6:37
  • $\begingroup$ @YvonneLiew Sure! In my answer, I mentioned that handwriting is affected by one's orthographic motor integration and finger sequencing. While finger sequencing can be practiced in other areas (piano, etc.), orthographic motor integration is specific to handwriting by definition. Here's that definition from another paper: "Orthographic-motor integration refers to the way in which ortho- graphic knowledge is integrated with fine-motor demands of handwriting." $\endgroup$ – Sydney Maples Aug 25 '15 at 16:11
  • $\begingroup$ @YvonneLiew Basically the idea was that since handwriting ability is largely determined by a skill that is specific to handwriting, it is not going to be influenced much by your fine-motor skills in general, as they are not quite transferable. Its like asking if playing piano will make you a better guitar player, since both use their fingers. :) $\endgroup$ – Sydney Maples Aug 25 '15 at 16:14
  • $\begingroup$ I think I see your point, although I'm not entirely convinced yet =P The skill of playing the piano is not transferable to playing the guitar because different muscles are used and in a different sequence. But perhaps there is an underlying muscular control ability that would enable pianists to easily pick up the guitar, more easily than the average person. And in the case of a professional pianist, he would certainly have more refined motor skills than the average population. Not because he is a pianist. He is a pianist because of his refined motor skills. $\endgroup$ – Yvonne Liew Aug 26 '15 at 1:44
  • $\begingroup$ So then would the handwriting of a group of people with excellent muscular control ability be different from the handwriting of a group of people with average muscular control ability? If they all spent the same amount of time "practicing" writing. (Like practicing guitar or piano). $\endgroup$ – Yvonne Liew Aug 26 '15 at 1:47

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