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Spot-on handwriting analysis surprises iReporters

By Christina Zdanowicz, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • There are about 100 personality traits in different ink strokes, says expert
  • CNN sent eight handwriting samples to an expert for analysis
  • All of the subjects shared their reaction to the analysis

Editor's note: As part of CNN's Defining America project, CNN iReport is conducting a cultural census. We're asking people to share a self-portrait, show off their handwriting, tell us what they typically eat for dinner, and more. This piece is part of our series focusing on the handwriting project.

(CNN) -- Following his mother's practice of nice penmanship, Philip Dahlheimer has always written with a little bit of flair.

He's comfortable with his handwriting and feels it is an extension of himself. His writing sends a certain message: He's a fast writer, but he cares about legibility at the same time, he says.

For CNN iReport's cultural census project, we collected more than 200 handwriting samples and selected a handful to be analyzed by an expert. We wanted to find out just what handwriting can say about a person -- and whether the impression it gives is at all accurate.

Bart Baggett, a handwriting expert for the past 25 years, examined the samples and came to some conclusions about each person's personality. Baggett, who is based out of Los Angeles, has been qualified in court and has written books on handwriting analysis.

After Baggett dissected everyone's handwriting, we called back the iReporters to get their impressions. Seven of the eight iReporters overwhelmingly agreed with their handwriting analysis, including Dahlheimer.

"Maybe I ought to marry him? He's got it down to a T," Dahlheimer said with a laugh. "He got that all from handwriting? Maybe he Googled me and made it all up? That's funny."

When it comes to finding hints in handwriting, Baggett says, "There are about 100 different personality traits that are in different ink strokes."

"I'm able to weigh certain features with certain significance," he said. "So I'm able to see a certain personality rather than just certain traits."

Nia Gamboa

Teenaged writing

Nia Gamboa of San Diego is a high school senior who thinks her handwriting is pretty neat. The 17-year-old wonders if her penmanship was influenced by the way she saw her friends write when they were in middle school. And, it was, according to Baggett.

But Gamboa's handwriting is likely to change -- "most 'girly' writing changes into adult writing between the ages of 16 to 22,'' he said. "If it doesn't, the parents should worry that the girl is still 'living it up' in the 'let's have fun today' attitude of a teenager."

David McLane

Ambidextrous writer: 'I'm weird'

David McLane, 76, uses his left hand to draw, but his right hand to write. He also uses both hands for everyday tasks.

"I can use chopsticks better with my right and but can also use my left hand," he said. "I can use hammers, screwdrivers, saws, etc., with either hand but can only throw things with my left hand."

The 76-year-old world traveler, former Air Force jet mechanic and former English teacher abroad thinks his handwriting says "I'm kind of weird."

Baggett thinks McLane's ability to write with both hands -- being ambidextrous -- isn't weird but it is unusual. This skill occurs when the synaptic pathways having to do with motor control extend to both halves of the brain, he said.

Speculation of genius status aside, here's what the expert said with certainty: "Dave is too honest, which allows his mouth to express opinions which might have better keep to himself. Blunt is great, unless people are thin-skinned, which some are. So, Dave's strong, dominant, tell-it-like-it-is attitude can be off-putting to some people."

McLane was impressed with the analysis. "That's very interesting," he said. "I agree with him totally. It's amazing he can see that from looking at my handwriting."

Pamela Stanfield

'Not even a nun could straighten this lefty out'

Pamela Stanfield thinks her handwriting is "horrible" and being a lefty doesn't help her cause. A story from her childhood helps explain the influence behind her handwriting.

"I definitely had a Catholic nun spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to correct what mother nature (lefty) simply would not let me do," said the Pinson, Tennessee, graphic designer.

Baggett dislikes it when handwriting teachers do "unintentional damage" by forcing children to conform to strict letter formations, he said. He agrees with Stanfield that the nun's criticism probably didn't help her handwriting.

What was more worrisome was the downturned g-loop in the word dog. "This trait indicates a 'fear of success' and normally leads to a life of 'almost,' 'could have' and 'didn't quite make it' because there was strong negative reinforcement for winning when she was a little girl," Baggett said.

Stanfield laughed at this part of the analysis and respectfully disagreed.

"Oh, that's funny. I don't think I'm afraid of success by any means. I would probably say I've been more successful in the field I've chosen -- I'm an art student -- because I make a good living."

Philip Dahlheimer

Writing with flair

What was it about the analysis of Philip Dahlheimer's handwriting that made him so enthusiastic in his reaction? In this case, the subject couldn't find much to disagree with.

He's a "high-level thinker" and fast decision-maker with a curious mind, according to the expert. But, Baggett also said Dahlheimer "often fails to listen to others, lacks trust from strangers and has a few close friends."

Dahlheimer laughed when he heard the negative critique.

"He's pretty right on cue. Most of the description is accurate," he said. "I laugh, because I don't listen to people, I consider myself a leader."

Katie Corbin

Handwriting is her 'superpower'

Katie Corbin says her handwriting reflects her "artist/graphic designer qualities -- working on a grid, uniformity, artistry" and that she often gets compliments on it.

"My friends like to call my handwriting my 'superpower,' " she said. "I'm often asked to write for them on important documents and wedding pieces (invitations, name cards, etc.)."

Baggett said her pretty handwriting stems from the "excessive detail she pays to rhythm, symmetry, straight lines and connecting strokes." The traits associated with this writing include: perfectionism, fluidity of thinking and being organized, among other things, he said.

"Her superpower is not her 'pretty handwriting.' It is her powerful and unique personality and incredibly honesty," he said.

Corbin, a graphic designer from Leitchfield, Kentucky, couldn't agree more.

"It's definitely a reflection of my personality. I am very detail-oriented, and I need to find the aesthetic in everything. Things drive me crazy if they're not visually pleasing and that carries over into my handwriting."

Rob Flores

He's a lefty

Rob Flores describes his lefty handwriting as "quick and to the point." The 25-year-old from Greeley, Colorado, says his handwriting actually looks a lot like his father's.

Flores' writing is called "printing," which shows a "decrease in desire to communicate feelings and emphasizes speed over 'emotion,' " said Baggett.

"Rob's low t-bar indicates he has an average self-esteem and deals with self-doubt," he added. But, the uphill-slanting baseline is an indicator for optimism.

"The introvert part, I agree with that," said Flores. "I agree with the optimism part. Not wanting to share my emotions too much, that pretty much pegs me."

Flores said he will go back and look at other things he's written to see if the bar was slanted so he can figure out what mood he was in.

Jutka Barabas

Doodles and writing

Jutka T. Emoke Barabas made an adorable illustration to go along with her handwriting sample. "The drawing definitely says that I am thinking 'outside the box' and I am bit an adventurer and like to explore different ways in life as well," said the Honolulu resident.

Baggett does not analyze doodles and art, but he found the handwriting sample interesting. Adventure and a lack of fear were two of the qualities he spotted, agreeing with Barabas' take on her writing. And, the "bouncy baseline" indicates an "easy-going" attitude.

Besides being carefree, he said Barabas likes to keep to herself. "The g with no loop is aggressive, and the writer lacks trust in interpersonal relationships. The i-dot which is close to the stem and clear indicates loyalty," he said.

"Wow, it is so true," said Barabas after listening to the feedback. She is very shy and said she only associates with people she really trusts.

Thomas Galante

Best medical handwriting

Thomas Galante, an emergency room technician at a Philadelphia hospital, believes his job has definitely affected his handwriting.

"I think my handwriting has gotten faster over the years. Years of writing in patient charts have forced me to be quick and concise," he said.

Baggett was impressed with how legible this handwriting sample was. "This is the clearest handwriting I've ever seen from a nurse or a doctor, so he should get a trophy for best medical handwriting."

The large capital K indicates a "strong knee-jerk reaction to silly rules and don't be surprised if he is covertly subversive relating to authority."

And, other clues in the writing say Galante has an "aggressive nature which he keeps in check with his 'masculine' shell, but deep down has a huge fear of looking stupid or getting rejected," Baggett said.

Galante agreed with most of the analysis and got a good chuckle out of his supposed lack of respect for authorities.

"The being subversive to authority part was one of the funniest I've heard in awhile," he said. "Can you e-mail that to me? There are a lot of people who would find that extremely amusing."