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And you thought they were just for counting: What our FINGERS tell us about who we are

Why Am I Anxious

Pretty cool what our bodies reveal about who we really are. Would you ever have imagined that a finger-size comparison could tell many deeply personal tales? Digit ratio is fascinating. And I’m thinking you’ll agree, so let’s dial it up…

Then she moved-on to the testosterone connection. Yes, in adults, when the index finger is shorter than the ring finger, the individual was exposed to more of it in utero.

Felt a little ignorant, actually. Was looking for article ideas and came upon a piece detailing new research regarding something known as digit ratio. This observation was at the beginning of the summary: “It is well-known that adults whose index finger is shorter than their ring finger were exposed to greater amounts of testosterone when they were in the womb.”

Hmmm, I’ve been around the research block a time or two, and that was news to me. So now the issue became personal, and I dove right in.

The article was published October 10, 2016 and written by science writer Anne Sliper Midling. It appeared in Gemini: Research News from NTNU and SINTEF. They would be the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and The Foundation for Scientific and Industrial Research. Yep, the acronyms don’t match-up because the language of origin is Norwegian.

“Show Your Fingers to a Neuroscientist”

After challenging readers to “show their fingers to a neuroscientist,” Ms. Midling observes that by comparing the index and ring fingers, a neuroscientist would be able to tell if one is likely to be anxious or, say, a good athlete.

I was quite taken by that. And, of course, was eyeballing my fingers for the duration of the read.

Then she moved-on to the testosterone connection. Yes, in adults, when the index finger is shorter than the ring finger, the individual was exposed to more of it in utero.

What Does That Shortie or Longie Index Finger Reveal About Me?

No doubt, the connection between in utero testosterone and finger size is a curious phenomenon. However, we’re not going to get into the “why’s” of it all. Just not enough space.

Instead, I’d like to go with what digit ratio tells us about who we are.

Ms. Midling brings in the work of medical doctor Carl Pintzka, researcher at the Norwegian Competence Service for Functional MRI.

A summary of his observations on women and men with shorter index fingers…

  • Better equipped to solve mentally demanding 3D rotation tasks
  • Better physical and athletic abilities
  • Better directional sense
  • More prone to ADHD, Tourette’s syndrome, autistic spectrum disorders

Women and men with even or longer index fingers…

  • Better abilities in verbal memory tasks, such as remembering lists of words
  • Increased risk of developing anxiety disorders and depression

Here’s Ms. Midling’s article: Show Your Fingers to a Neuroscientist

I Was Liking This Finger Thing

Ms. Midling’s piece lit a fire, and I wanted to learn more. So off I went to research-land, and here are some of the things I bumped into.

How to treat anxietyFirst up was Discover’s piece, Finger Length Predicts Health and Behavior, written by Jessica Cassity. Ms. Cassity provides the slick image to the left, along with this calculation…

Measure your index and ring fingers, base to tip. (Most of the studies used the right hand). Divide the length of your index finger by the length of your ring finger to determine the digit ratio, or finger quotient (Fq). A longer ring finger results in an Fq of less than 1 and a more “masculine” hand shape.

Cassity begins with Fq < 1, observing that shorter index fingers equate to sharper tongues – in women and men. So it can be a predictor of verbal sparring. And it can be an indicator of high levels of achievement in sports, as well as mental toughness in athletics.

Cassity moves-on to physical aggression. Seems men with a shorter index finger are more likely to pick fights. And like-fingered women are more apt to react with aggression when provoked.

Shorter index fingers can be a sign of knee osteoarthritis risk, more so in women.

Men with shorter index fingers tend to be risk-takers. Cassity notes the most successful financial traders tend to have the longest fourth fingers. Seems this only applies to men.

Okay, she takes us to the other side of the fence…

Cassity observes that a high digit ratio (Fq > 1) – very little difference between the index and ring fingers, or a longer index finger – has been found in men with oral cancer, as opposed to men with pre-cancerous oral lesions or no lesions at all.

Also observed is men with a high digit ratio have a 33% reduced risk of prostate cancer. Younger than 60? The risk is even less.

Curiosity Wasn’t Going to Kill This Cat

Well, curiosity may have killed most cats, but this one was willing to take the risk (does that make me Fq < 1?). So on I went for more fun tidbits to bring your way.

How ’bout we streamline things? The following come from LiveScience, The Guardian, and The Daily Mail. The links will take you to the articles.

Women and men with shorter index fingers…

  • Scored higher, on average, in the math section vs. verbal of the SAT
  • More assertive, perhaps more aggressive
  • Less likely to suffer from an eating disorder
  • More likely to have “masculine” handwriting (and that looks like?)
  • More likely to be unfaithful in relationships

Women and men with even or longer index fingers…

  • Tend to be more agreeable
  • More likely to be faithful in relationships

Women with shorter index fingers…

  • More likely to have what was considered a “traditionally male” job – lawyer, corporate manager, etc.

Women with even or longer index fingers…

  • Prefer partners with more masculine faces
  • More likely to be employed in what was known as a “female job” – nurse, elementary school teacher, etc.

Men with shorter index fingers…

  • Tend to be nicer toward women
  • Longer stretched penis size
  • May have more handsome faces
  • Perceived as more masculine and dominant
  • Among professional musicians, believed to be more skilled

Men with even or longer index fingers…

  • Do better on exams
  • More likely to have paranormal and superstitious beliefs.
  • Could be rude

And That’s That

It really is amazing what our bodies reveal about who we really are, isn’t it? Just more evidence of the body/mind connection (as though they were separate entities).

Digit ratio, finger quotient, shorter index or ring finger – whatever you want to call it. It’s fascinating. And let’s not forget the testosterone dynamics at its foundation. If you ask me, well worth the time to “finger” it all out.

Oh, I am? F < 1.

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