If you like to sign your name with a flourish, chances are you love being the centre of attention - and you might even be a little vain.

That's according to a study by psychologists, who have discovered that a person's signature can reveal a surprising amount about their personality.

The scientists found that men and women with a large signature are more likely to enjoy being the centre of attention - scoring highly on "sociable dominance" in personality tests.

The study also showed that women with a large signature were more likely to be vain and egotistical than those who had a small signature - though this didn't apply to men.


Sociable dominance is characterised by a positive attitude towards others, a central position in groups, a strong need to dominate and the holding of solid self-esteem.

The researchers wrote "Given the positive association of signature size and sociable dominance, larger signatures could be interpreted as a signal of the inclination to stand out and occupy a central position within a group."

For the study, which was published in the Journal of Research in Personality, psychologists analysed the handwritten signatures of 340 men and women along with their answers to several personality questionnaires.

They analysed the results in a way that controlled for the effects of other factors, such as the number of characters in their name and their overall writing style. The results showed that, while both men and women with florid signatures like being the centre of attention, only women scored highly when it came to vanity.

The researchers, from the University of the Republic in Uruguay, suggested that this is because narcissism is expressed differently in men and women.

Previous research, they explained, has found narcissistic men tend to express the trait through lack of empathy, while narcissistic women are more likely to express it "through extreme concern with physical appearance, of which handwritten signatures could be an expression".

Similarly, a separate study found that women - but not men - who embellished their signature with exclamation marks and underlining also scored higher on narcissism.