But On The Other Hand

Take a look at your hands. There is far more information about you hidden there than most of us would like to think. The palms and calluses only tell what you have been doing with them, or not doing with them if they are soft and delicate. There is much more telling information available, though. Get a ruler out and measure your fingers. Just the index and the ring fingers will do. Some of your traits can be seen there. Built in at birth, are our tendency to be physically aggressive, to suffer from attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder, alcoholism, our ability to perform in examinations and, not so bad, our tendency to be left-handed.

This very scary piece of information is the result of a study by Kornhuber et al carried out in Germany (1). The ratio of the lengths of our index to our ring fingers is crucial. An added indicator is the difference between the two hands.

These finger ratios are smaller in males and reflect the prenatal exposure to hormones, mainly testosterone. The right hand is the prime indicator and the closer the ratio is to 1 the less likely you are to have an alcohol problem. Apparently, because women tend to have digit ratios closer to 1 than men, they are less likely to become alcoholics.

Examination marks for guys with ratios closer to 1 are generally higher than those for guys with a ratio close to 0.95. Women didn’t fit this model, though. But it is interesting to note that women in academia tend to have ratios closer to the male population than the general female population. (Nails don’t count of course.)

I have to go for my annual physical today, and will try and keep my hands firmly in my pockets in case I come away with prescriptions for Ritalin and Naltrexone, just because we shook hands. Sympathy for my exam results wouldn’t go amiss though.

  1. http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0019332

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