Digitally Challenged? Check Your Digit Ratio.

There are scads of papers out there on the importance of your digit ratio to all sorts of activities and even proclivities. Wikipedia, for example, lists 88 peer reviewed papers as examples of traits ranging from sporting ability through aggression to tactile perception. Even exam scores have been related to the digit ratio of male students.

What is your digit ratio? You haven’t measured it lately? Then now is the time. Measure the length of your index finger and divide that length by the length of your ring finger and there you have it –­ your own personal 2D:4D ratio. Even the behavior of mice and pheasants has been related to their digit ratios.

Wikipedia quotes an average for men as 0.947 and one for women as 0.965 (1). Apparently your personal 2D:4D ratio is set by your exposure to testosterone while you are developing prior to birth, so you’re stuck with it now. A low ratio, apparently is better if you want to be a good athlete but a high ratio goes with good exam scores.

High-ranking male musicians were like athletes, their digit ratio was on the low side of the mean Sluming and Manning even found that the seats close to the orchestra had more women than men and concluded that “that music is a sexually selected trait in men that indicates fertilizing capacity and perhaps good genes” (2).

After that astounding idea from the turn of the century, I, of course, had to rush off and measure my ratio. Being right handed, I measured my left 2D:4D value first. Horror – 1.006! Next I struggled with the right hand. Ughh – 1.00. Knowing now that I’m unlikely to be a top ranking musician or a successful Sumo wrestler (3,4)

The only bright spot came from the paper of Luxen and Buunk back in ’05 published in the J. Personality and Individual Differences, which suggested that a higher ratio might indicate high verbal intelligence, high agreeableness, although low numerical intelligence.

I can relax now and revel in being that chatty, agreeable guy in the checkout line who can never make the right change. When those mutterings breakout behind me, I can just wave my hand and let the fingers tell all.

  3. Evolution and Human Behavior  doi:10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2011.07.003 
  4. N0v. 30, 2011

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