THE PRICE OF GRAPHOLOGY

 Probable Prices (in Euro or US dollar) in 2002

Country

Minimum

Maximum

France

50

230

Italy

100

220

Netherlands

120

230

USA

175

No info

World

5

500

This is mainly based on the article below.

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The Applications and Prices of Graphology 

Copyright 2002 by Nigel Bradley


Introduction

Graphology has numerous uses, it has applications in management, in crime investigation, in social work and so on. People who offer graphological services need to consider the way they describe their service and the price. Services can be described as a named, fixed 'Product' (sometimes with a brand name); services can be chosen from a list of items (sometimes called " la Carte") or they may be a negotiated open-ended offering.   Price may determine how the service is offered.    This paper looks at the services offered by graphologists worldwide and attempts to summarise how graphologists present their services with the prices they charge.

Very few authors have explored the nature of services provided by graphologists. One exception was Franco Torbidoni (2001) who examined the issue of quality control and the offering of services which are uniform.  He highlighted the importance of quality control and TQM (Total Quality Management) by discussing the provision of services outside the field of graphology.    The International Standard Organisation (ISO) has been instrumental in building knowledge of the importance of quality and the various designations (e.g. ISO 9000) are well known in the commercial world.

One important aspect of quality control is a written record against which quality can be assessed.  The Quality Manual and Quality System Procedures need to be created before quality can be inspected.    Torbidoni concludes with these words "Each graphologist wants to deliver a quality service; but who can establish the standards? How is it possible to create a Quality System for graphology where a certificate will be given (if requested) by external bodies?"   He pleads for work to begin to provide some assurance to clients on the quality of service provided by graphology.

Aims of this study

 This study takes Franco Torbidoni's work further. It focuses on an issue that should be part of any Quality Control Manual, it is a description of services provided.   Price is also explored in some detail although it must be stated that it is unlikely to be part of a quality control manual. Price is important because it is a large determinant of how different services are described.     The objective of this study is to describe the different services offered by graphologists.   A sub-objective is to attempt to attach a price to each of these services.

Methodology

There are many ways to earn money from graphology so some services have been kept outside the scope of this enquiry.  The excluded services are as follows:  public speaking; teaching; sale of distance learning materials; sale of books, videotapes, CDs, flashcards etc.; teaching penmanship; remedial writing therapy; calligraphy-related skills.   It should also be remembered that there are many ways to be paid other than 'cash'. This can include royalties, retainers, shares, success-only-fee, bonuses, commissions, in kind etc.   Such complications have largely been avoided in this article.

 

This study is based almost entirely on a search of secondary data.   It draws on books, articles, promotional literature and web sites of practising graphologists. Graphologists describe their services in many different ways and a useful way to create an overall description is to look to professional bodies.  Two French professional groupings are particularly helpful in this respect; they are the GGCF and the SGDS. Both organisations have web sites with lists of their members and their specialisations; immediately we have an indication of the most common services offered. Such material is extensive, a simple internet search on the words 'graphology' with 'prices' showed that over 700 pages include both terms, in English alone.   The major challenge was to reduce this documentation in a meaningful way.  Relevant literature was identified and inspected, looking for common or conflicting themes.   Finally practitioners were contacted informally to add more understanding to the synthesis.   Sometimes prices are not published, but are available on request, therefore this assistance was important. 

Hundreds of pages of printouts of web pages dated 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002 were inspected and the published prices for 55 graphologists from many different countries were located. These sites were revisited in July 2002 and the information was updated and collated. Only 8 graphologists gave a price per hour most prices were attached to services. In many cases several prices were given, so up to three prices were noted for each supplier, which led to the recording of 117 price points. Prices were rounded up/down to the nearest currency unit. If postage/delivery or reports was described and priced apart from services, it was added to the price. The prices were collated into two currencies: European Euros and US Dollars. Both currencies are, for the purposes of this article, quite similar and we can assume that one dollar is equivalent to one Euro. For simplicity a currency converter found at http://www.xe.net/currency was used.

The Euro Currency analysis was applied to all countries in the European Union. The Euro became the sole currency for 12 of the 15 EU countries in 2002.  However some prices were still only published in the respective currencies (e.g. Lire, Marks, Francs), so they were converted into Euros.   Similarly prices for the UK, Denmark, Norway, and Switzerland were converted into Euros and included in the analysis. The US Dollar analysis included any practitioners based in the USA, but also any outside the USA who gave their prices in US Dollars.   Additionally the prices given in local currencies for Australia and Canada were converted into US Dollars. Any other countries were incorporated into the US dollar calculation.

Pricing Knowledge

The decision concerning price is a complex one, there are many different reasons for charging a particular price and many strategies used. McDonald (2001:353) states two reasons why pricing is of importance: "Price not only affects the margin through its impact on revenue; it also affects the quantity sold through its influence on demand".   Kotler et al (2001, pp 596-621) describe the many pricing strategies that are used: a company may offer its product at a lower, higher or same price as its competitors.  The decision may be to sell more, less or the same amount; it may be a reaction to a temporary or permanent change in situation;  it may be to give a message to the market place.  The field of pricing knowledge is vast and clearly not within the remit of this short article.  However there are some aspects that are pertinent. Here are some reasons why a specific price may be chosen (cited by Bartram 2002):

  • Building strategic customer relationships
  • Improving margins
  • Increasing profitability
  • Generating growth
  • Increasing sales volume
  • Improving individual customer profitability
  • Increasing sales of specific products and services
  • Enhancing brand images
  • Enhancing company's image
  • Improving market share
  • Creating entry barriers for competitors
  • Improving supply chain influence
  • Extending global reach

Reference Prices are prices that buyers carry in their minds and refer to when they look at a given product.  This very simple point becomes confusing for the graphology market.   For example a 'character profile' can be produced for an employer (in pre-employment work) or for a private individual.  The employer's "reference price" is that charged by other providers of information: they may be Psychologists, Psycwwwtrists, Human Resources Consultants, Recruitment Consultancies, or indeed they may have no knowledge at all.  Their reference price could be extremely high or low.  On the other hand the private individual may also have a reference price that is high or low, depending on his/her position in life - that person may be a student or fully employed; affluent or less affluent; experienced or inexperienced in purchasing such services.

A recent study into reference pricing (Niedrich et al 2001) suggested "consumers place greater weight on extreme prices anchoring the range". Furthermore they say that "Perhaps the context is set by the high and low prices, which are more easily retrieved, along with some subset of the more available prices".   For this study of services offered by graphologists, it is therefore relevant to focus on three points: 1) the highest prices charged; 2) the lowest prices charged and 3) the prices charged most frequently. In other words, the arithmetic mean is less important than the mode and the extremes.

Corporate Applications

The application of graphology in the field of human resources is familiar to most graphologists.   Indeed it would appear that such work from corporate clients is important to practitioners.  

In France the GGCF denote this field as follows "Analysis at all levels of personnel for recruitment, team-building, assessing aptitudes, coaching, career management".  Amongst the 87 GGCF members listed (April 2000) we find that 97% offer this service.   The SGDS call this 'Corporate Work' "to evaluate potential in recruitment, promotion, internal mobility".  Based on 66 SGDS members listed (January 2002) we find that this service is offered by 90%. Furthermore, 60% of members specialise in recruitment and 55% in coaching and assessment of aptitudes when in employment. 

From the United States of America IGAS has probably trained more graphologists in North America than any other single organisation and they describe this type of work as follows:  "Business Graphoanalysis: A special report, for the employer, of a writer's personality characteristics and ability directed toward the particular personnel need (hiring, promotion etc.)"

The Italian Professional Graphologists' Association (AGP) confirms the importance of this field by subdividing such work into mass-screening and individual analyses of personality.   Indeed this organisation distinguishes between different approaches to lower management, middle management and top management positions.

From the information available it was possible to create Table 1 and 2 with the numerous applications and variations of services offered in the Human Resources field. Specific detail has been provided in the Appendix Tables.  It can be seen that the basic approach is to evaluate a writer's script, but the reason may differ and the final result may vary.   The reason can range from short-listing candidates by mass screening to in-depth analysis of specific people. The purpose may be to assess people already in employment for such things as promotion or team building.   These reasons may concern different levels of management.  The final result of the graphological analysis can vary by the format of reporting (in person or a delivered document; long or short), by the speed of delivery (express or regular delivery) and by guidance given by the client (graphologists may report to their own format or may use a client's guidelines).

Some practitioners add charges for tax, postage, whilst others deduct money for bulk discount.  Translation of descriptive terminology and conversion of currencies are also likely to affect comparisons, nevertheless prices recommended by organisations vary from 38 to 230 Euro/US Dollars as seen in Table 3.

In the study of 55 graphologists the lower prices are attributable to what is known as "quick analyses" (the French use the term "Flash-Grapho") whereby an instant judgement is made and communicated swiftly by telephone or fax or email. This may be as simple as a recommendation to consider the candidate as Interesting/Possible/Not appropriate. The low prices may also refer to the cost per candidate of a mass sorting of numerous applications, here individual portraits are not created but a sorting procedure is used.

 

Table 1.            Human Resource Applications

 

Pre-employment                            In-employment

Recruitment                                         Promotion

Guidance interviews                             Coaching

Short-listing                                        Team-building

                                                            Internal Mobility

                                                            Career Management

Table 2.         Human Resource Variations

        Individual v. mass-screening

        Upper, middle, lower management

        Graphologist guidlines v. employer's profiles

        Structured v. unstructured reporting

        Short v. in-depth report

        Express v. regular speed

        Report by phone, in person, in writing

        Employer or recruitment agency as client

 

Table 3 Human Resources "recommended" Prices (in Euro or US dollar)

Organisation

Minimum Price

Maximum Price

SGDS (France)

38

230

IGM (Italy)

78

130

AGP (Italy)

96

212

NOG (Netherlands)

114

230

IGAS (USA)

175

Not provided

55 graphologists (world)

5

500


Private Citizen Applications

The application of graphology for the use of private citizens (or individuals), rather than for corporations is probably the second-most important area. This can further be subdivided into personality portraits of adults or children. Such analyses are designed to know oneself  better; to be well-informed when making personal or work decisions.  

In France the Adult service is offered by 78% of GGCF members whereas the analysis of children is offered by just 14% of members. The SGDS has a similar difference where the Adult service is offered by 68% of members and the Children and Adolescents service is offered by only 26% of members.

In Italy the non-adult services come under such headings as Consultancy for the "evolving age" (puberty) and Scholastic/Vocational Guidance. There is also a sector that involves domestic counselling in which the writings of an entire family are used to facilitate understanding of relationship dynamics. Clearly graphologists are using skills outside the sphere of handwriting analysis. This also extends to marriage guidance, even pre-marriage compatibility studies. The same technique is also adapted to business partnership compatibility.

Pricing in this area becomes extremely complex. Where children are involved there are supplementary skills involved and generally prices are higher.  Where a pair of analyses take place there is not always a doubled price. Sometimes there is an insistence on face-to-face briefing and debriefing. It is for such reasons that price comparisons become extremely dubious. The analysis tried to accommodate the different price levels by noting a maximum of three prices for each supplier, which led to the recording of 117 price points. For the record Table 4 shows that they vary from 5 Euros to 500 Euros. The low price bracket is largely explained by low cost services such as those carried out on signatures alone or carried out using computer assisted report production and ones that require marks (crosses, diagrammatic notations) on single work sheets. On analysing the promotional material it can be seen that these are clearly marketed to people who are curious about graphology but do not wish to spend a great deal of money. Graphology is being used for entertainment purposes in these cases.

A rate per hour would be extremely helpful, but information of this sort was only available for a few graphologists. This can be seen in Table 5 where the average is 114 Euros (or dollars) per hour. 

Table 4            Prices in Euro/US dollar   (n=55 based on 117 pricing Points)

 

All Prices

Lowest

Price Bands

Medium

Price Bands

Highest

Price Bands

Sample

117 price points

48 price points

34 price points

35 price points

Minimum

5

5

25

50

Maximum

500

150

240

500

Average

105

53

96

183

 

  Table 5            Hourly Rates in Euro/US dollar (n=8)

 

Minimum

40

Maximum

225

Average

114

 

Other Applications

Published articles and promotional materials clearly indicate that graphology has many uses and is sold in very imaginative ways. The prices of these services are less easy to identify, although the Appendix Tables do give some indicators.

Historical research that uses graphology in biographical investigation or in genealogy is one such use.  Entertainment graphology has been used by the popular media (newspapers, radio and TV) for celebrities and the infamous. The Medical field is another: Ludewig et al (1992) said "Graphological analysis is particularly helpful in the following ways: early diagnosis, documenting the course of the disease, evaluating treatment, psychological relationships as well as problems of old age". In the 1930s German Insurance Companies used signatures to determine the potential lifespan of their clients. The 'life expectancy formula' was refined by the graphologist Friedrich Sonntag (1914-1988). He passed this knowledge to Erika Karohs who is researching the topic. A Social Welfare application for graphology was outlined in AHAF Journal (1997 30:3). A male, found in San Diego, was diagnosed to be suffering from amnesia. Investigators used several techniques (interviewing, drawing tests, handwriting analysis) to assess his origins.

The use of graphology in legal work is another area. A very specialist area, in France for example, this service is offered by only 14% of GGCF members and by just 12% of SGDS members. It involves making writing comparisons for Courts of Law or other clients. Effectively the graphologist is an expert witness. Forensic Document Examiners are often confused with graphologists and indeed there is some overlap.

  Table 6 Judicial Graphology (AGP) (minimum fees)

Forgeries and Forensics, done at own premises         106 Euro
  Spoken opinion   186 Euro
  Written opinion 372 Euro
   Detailed Technical Report     743 Euro
  Probing a specimen for specific reasons     212 Euro
 Meeting      64 Euro
    Court Appearance   1275 Euro

The Italian professional body AGP provides indicative fees shown in Table 6. It will be seen that the Judicial fees are given as minimum figures; indeed AGP states that they do not set an upper price since there are geographic differences in Italian localities which make this undesirable.   This therefore implies that the fees will be more expensive in some towns rather than others.   Another factor can also increase prices is the issue of 'speed'. If, for example, a judicial authority wishes the graphologist to deliver early, then the costs can be increased by up to 20%. This guideline, along with many others came, not from AGP, but from the judicial authorities in their 'Expert Witness Guidelines'.

Such legal work can extend into other areas, for example Susan May was sentenced to life imprisonment for a murder she may not have committed. David Bennett involved himself in her case because her handwriting showed a "lack of any hostile traits". She was granted permission to appeal. (Bennett 2000).  In the USA legal work is evident in the form of screening potential jury members. Before a trial, both prosecution and defence can question prospective jurors and dismiss them as unsuitable. Graphologists are sometimes used to assist. Ray Rider (IGAS) was doing this type of work in the 1960s.  See Burnup (1987) Jury Selection by Graphoanalysis.

Conclusions

This has been an exploratory study and in addition to examining the promotional output of professional bodies and graphologists, it has described price differences.   It is hoped that the study will lead to the recognition of a standard description of services and pricing structure that can become a point of reference for practising graphologists.


References

Bartram, Peter (2002) Winning benefits from pricing. Why are some companies able to charge more than others for very similar products? Marketing Business. May 2002. p11

Bennett, David (2000) The Case of Susan May. AQG Graphological Magazine No.11, Summer 12-17

Burnup R H (1987) Jury Selection by Graphoanalysis, American Legal Tech

Kotler, P; Armstrong, G;  Saunders, J; Wong, V (2001)  Principles of Marketing. Pearson, Harlow

Ludewig R, Dettweiler C, Lewison TS. (1992) Possibilities & Limits of Med

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