Handwriting in a Digital World

Handwriting is more than written information on paper. It is a tangible piece of our mental processes. I’m not referring to your deepest darkest secrets; only you know those. I am talking about how you choose to communicate your thoughts. Some people rehearse their words in their brain prior to putting pen to paper, others just write freely and worry about editing later. Perhaps, this is why we use digital formatting for most everything; it is easy to edit without leaving smudges or lined-out words in the wake of our emerging discourse. Aesthetically, typed information is easier on the eye and void of unnecessary distractions. So why do law enforcement officials insist on taking written statements with pen and paper? Some may jokingly profess it is the lack of funds for 21st century technology, or others may just shrug and say “that’s the way we have always done it.”. Despite the reason, the unique identifying characteristics of handwriting should not be discounted.

Handwriting, like your DNA, identifies you yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Your handwriting changes with your moods and faculties. Handwriting is a time-stamped view of you! So, what does that say about comparative handwriting analysis? The overall appearance of your handwriting remains fairly consistent, but your writing slant, pressure, and spacing will vary. Something as simple as different widths of pen tips or writing surfaces will affect your handwriting; however, the information directed by your brain will not be altered. All of the typical who, what, when, where, how, and why questions cannot remain locked in our subconscious forever. While writing, we consistently pass along clues to our thought processes. For example, does a handwritten note “sound” like the person who wrote it? Hmm, not so much. Listen to a recorded version of the writer reading their handwritten note. All of a sudden you hear voice inflection and purposeful pauses. Have you ever wondered why movie producers use the author’s voice when showing a person reading a note from another? The effect is more powerful and speaks to our emotions.

Some say handwriting analysis is an art, a subjective science. I agree and disagree. Handwriting analysis can also be a measurable insight into mental processes. My research has shown and continues to show us areas where our brain writing consistently speaks to us with real-time data. Let me show you how this works. Intrigued? Fantastic! Click here, and grab a pen and paper.

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Call for Research Participants

How well do you mask lies?

Single or multiple submissions welcome. Make it a contest! Get your office involved. Assign yourself a 5-digit code to be placed on your writing sample. No identifying information please.

 

Instructions: Please write 4 paragraphs per the below instructions. You may print or write cursive on lined or unlined paper, and it does not matter if you write with a pen or pencil. Scan or photograph your completed statements and email or text them (with your 5-digit code) to: Michelle@MindSleuth.us or (800) 910-0270s.  Results with 5-digit codes will be published on Facebook and in the Spring issue of eliteinvestigativejournal.com

PARAGRAPH #1– Copy the following paragraph.
I was asked to write an article about bitcoins. The editor will contact me with needed edits prior to publishing my article. The compensation will be in virtual dollars.
PARAGRAPH #2
In 3 or more sentences, state your sex, age, your favorite pastime, and why you enjoy this pastime.
PARAGRAPH #3
In 3 or more sentences, write about your dream vacation, as if you just returned from a week of rest and relaxation. Be creative! But, remember, you must have never experienced this vacation.
PARAGRAPH #4
In 3 or more sentences, write about an incident which never occurred.

Thank you for your participation!

Dr. Michelle Doscher

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Please Protect Our Vulnerable

“Hello, Grandpa?”
“Yes. _______. Is that you? Are you OK?”
“I’m in New York and I am in a bit of trouble. I need some cash, Grandpa. Can you help me?”….

This is only one of several disturbing phone calls that are circulating. The phone numbers’ area codes always match the area from which the caller is supposedly calling.

How do we protect our vulnerable?  When my boys were toddlers, I assigned them a family password.  The password was our secret code and a quick way of assessing the boys’ safety.  We rehearsed the password until it was second-nature.  The password was fun and easy for a toddler to remember.  Better yet, it was even harder for a teen or young adult to forget!  We never had to use the password while the boys were young.

However, the password was recently used when the boys’ grandfather received a harried phone call and needed reassurance the young men were safe and sound.  A one-word response to a text, email, or phone call is all the peace of mind needed sometimes.

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May I Have Your Attention Please

Cognitive interviews are often preferred because of the explicit information attained. An interviewer will typically focus on temporal and spatial questions to elicit this information. So, once your interviewee’s descriptive verbiage begins, how do you know if you are receiving completely accurate information?
Ramp up the cognitive load and the verbal and nonverbal deceptive cues will emerge! Whoa, not so fast. What if your interviewee is completely comfortable telling tall tales? Requesting temporal and spatial details may not trigger extra cognitive load. They may rely on

established schema or rehearsed scenarios to dilute the effects of extra mental strain.
However, splitting their attention may do the trick. Diverge from maintaining eye contact and flip flop around with questions that do not seem to follow a normal sequence. This split-attention effect will make relying on schema more difficult and “new” scenarios will need to be created, for those interviewees with deceptive tendencies. In turn, cognitive load will be induced and deceptive cues will emerge.
What about interviewees telling the truth? This technique will also induce mental strain, but most truth tellers usually respond to cognitive load with less descriptive and shorter answers. If they receive positive feedback from the interviewer, the cognitive load will also be lessened. Unlike the deceptive interviewee, the truthful interviewee is not pressured to monitor feedback, verbiage, and possible deceptive cues.

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Memories of the Future

Coined by David Ingvar, memories of the future, refers to our intentions.   As proactive beings, we make plans and follow them to guide our behavior.  While gathering snippets of our past experiences, we try to anticipate outcomes of possible future actions.  Therefore, we depend on these schemas to direct our actions, resulting in desired behavioral outcomes that do not imitate past experiences or present realities.

The general consensus has been that deceptive behavior is more cognitively demanding than truthful behavior.  However, more recent research is pointing to truthful intent as more cognitively demanding than false intent.  How so? You may ask.  Conceptualizing truthful intent requires not only planning for the future but also recalling memories of past actions and their corresponding behaviors and reactions.  Then, our proactive selves digest this information and anticipate possible future actions with desired behavioral outcomes. Whew! Talk about cognitive load!

The prefrontal cortex, which means “at the front of the cortex”, is our corporate executive of the brain.  Its tasks include, but not be limited to, executive control, conflict monitoring, emotion, and working memory.   Hmm…so, maybe the cognitive load approach to interviewing is not the golden ticket, if determining veracity of intent is the interviewer’s objective.

If the above assumptions are correct, a truthful interviewee could exhibit more deceptive behavioral cues, such as pauses or exaggerated details, than a deceptive interviewee.  This might occur as a result of the multi-layer cognitive processing when creating truthful ‘memories of the future’.  Remember, false statements, especially fabricated statements, may contain some truthful content; however, the deceptive person’s goal is not to unintentionally reference past actions, which could associate them to a particular phenomenon in question.  To prevent this from occurring, deceptive persons typically shy away from referencing memories and their associated behavioral responses,  when creating false statements of intent.

 

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