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CEO Signature Size Linked To Narcissism In New Study

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CEO SIGNATURE NARCISSISM
This Sept. 21, 2011, memo posted on the White House website shows then-Office of Management and Budget director Jack Lew's signature. | AP

A new study sheds some light on what your boss's John Hancock might say about his personality.

The findings, released by the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina, indicate that for CEOs, the bigger the signature, the bigger the ego, and the higher the likelihood that he or she is a narcissist.

Business Insider reports that this means employees may want to stay clear of bosses with huge signatures, as they tend to "spend more aggressively, return less to shareholders, and keep more for themselves."

Study authors Charles Ham, Nicholas Seybert and Sean Wang used "the size of the CEO signature on annual SEC filings to measure CEO narcissism" and found that narcissistic CEOs are more likely to lose company money on bad investments, but regardless "enjoy higher compensation, both unconditionally and relative to the next highest paid executive at their firm."

ABC News reports that this study claims to be one of the first to focus exclusively on signature size, as well as the first to "assert a relationship between big signatures and bad decision making."

Study co-author Assistant Professor Wang told ABC that the research group used a total of 605 signatures, which were run through a software program to analyze the signature's area.

Looking for links between handwriting and personality back in 2011, Business Insider asked handwriting expert Paula Sassi to analyze the signatures of over a dozen notable financial leaders. Sassi pointed out two instances of large lettering and what she was able to decipher from them.

While examining the long strokes in the signature of James Dinan of York Capital, Sassi noted that the "Large, tall capital letters give evidence to Mr. Dinan’s sense of pride and confidence." The bold letters jutting up from the signature of Art Samberg, CEO of the now-shuttered Pequot Capital, prompted Sassi to write, "The tall loop of the 'h' indicates a sense of pride, while the angled forms of his capital 'S' show an aggressive and dominant personality type."

By contrast, Sassi found the following when examining the compact-looking signature of Dan Loeb, CEO of hedge fund Third Point: "The legible and moderate signature of Mr. Loeb shows that he presents himself in an honest fashion and has a congenial public self image. The capital letters reveal a moderate degree of confidence..."

Last month, the rather unconventional signature of newly-confirmed Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew (seen below) drew plenty of headscratching, as well as amateur analyzing. Time Magazine went so far as to consult a handwriting analysis expert, who suggested that Lew's series of illegible loops may indicate a "private, guarded person" who is "obviously a thinker."

Does your signature reveal anything about your personality? Let us know in the comments.

ceo signature narcissism

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