Alpha males take greater risks: Study links finger length to behavior
This press release is available in French. Montreal November 9, 2010 – Potential investors might wish to examine the fingers of their financial advisor prior to signing over any savings. A new study from Concordia University has found the length between the second and fourth finger is an indicator of high levels of prenatal testosterone, risk-taking and potential financial success in men. The findings, published in the journal of Personality and Individual Differences, suggest that alpha males may take greater risks in relationships, on the squash court and in the financial market.
"Previous studies have linked high testosterone levels with risky behaviour and financial success," says senior researcher Gad Saad, Concordia University Research Chair in Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences and Darwinian Consumption as well as a marketing professor at the John Molson School of Business. "We investigated the relationship between prenatal testosterone and various risk proclivities. Our findings show an association between high testosterone and risk-taking among males in three domains: recreational, social and financial."
"Since women tend to be attracted to men who are fit, assertive and rich, men are apt to take risks with sports, people and money to be attractive to potential mates. What's interesting is that this tendency is influenced by testosterone exposure – more testosterone in the womb can lead to more risks in the rink, the bar and the trading floor in later in life," says first author and Concordia doctoral student, Eric Stenstrom.
Link only observed in men
Saad and his team analyzed risk-taking among 413 male and female students using a survey. "Prenatal testosterone exposure not only influences fetal brain development," adds study co-author and graduate student, Zack Mendenhall, "but it also slows the growth of the index finger relative to the sum of the four fingers excluding the thumb."
The change in finger length produced by testosterone provides a handy measure of prenatal testosterone exposure. The study compared the length of the index finger with all four digits (known as the rel2 ratio) and found that those with lower ratios were more likely to engage in risk-taking. These findings were further confirmed by the additional measurement of the ratio between the index and ring finger. These correlations were only observed in men.
"A possible explanation for the null effects in women is that they do not engage in risky behaviour as a mating signal, whereas men do," says Professor Saad.
Source: Concordia University
- Hormone that affects finger length key to social behaviorWed, 4 Nov 2009, 11:28:27 EST
- The psychology of financial decision making and economic crisesWed, 22 Sep 2010, 11:23:04 EDT
- Finger length points to prostate cancer riskWed, 1 Dec 2010, 9:33:01 EST
- Financial risk-taking behavior is associated with higher testosterone levelsMon, 29 Sep 2008, 15:14:55 EDT
- Study shows bank risk-assessment tool not responding adequately to market fluctuationsTue, 26 May 2009, 12:43:22 EDT
- Alpha males take greater risks: Study links finger length to behaviorfrom Science DailyTue, 9 Nov 2010, 16:32:29 EST
- Alpha males take greater risks: Study links finger length to behaviorfrom PhysorgTue, 9 Nov 2010, 14:30:36 EST
Latest Science NewsletterGet the latest and most popular science news articles of the week in your Inbox! It's free!
Learn more about
Check out our next project, Biology.Net
From other science news sites
Popular science news articles
- Mysteries of Earth's radiation belts uncovered by NASA twin spacecraft
- Fledgling supernova remnant reveals neutron star's secrets
- Sea level rise and shoreline changes are lead influences on floods from tropical cyclones
- CU-Boulder-led team finds first evidence of primates regularly sleeping in caves
- New fossil species found in Mozambique reveals new data on ancient mammal relatives
- Stanford study suggests why, in some species, mere presence of males shortens females' lifespan
- 'Spooky action' builds a wormhole between 'entangled' quantum particles
- Fruit flies with better sex lives live longer
- The mystery of neutron stars heats up
- New report calls for attention to abrupt impacts from climate change