Home News Finger length may predict temper: study

Finger length may predict temper: study

by Archives April 6, 2005

EDMONTON (CUP) — The next time you pick a fight with someone, you might want to check out the length of their index and ring fingers ahead of time.

According to research conducted by psychology professor Peter Hurd and graduate student Allie Bailey of the University of Alberta, people who have a shorter index finger than ring finger are considered to have a more “masculine” finger ratio and are more prone to be physically aggressive.

However, this indication of physical aggression is only applicable to men and not women, as these two fingers are usually of equal length in women.

According to Hurd, who specializes in sexual and aggressive natures, the correlation between digit ratio and aggression is not as outrageous as one might think.

“The association between aggression and (finger) ratio is thought to reflect the amount of testosterone an individual was exposed to in the womb. Many other animal studies have shown that there’s an association between testosterone exposure early on during development and aggressiveness in adults,” said Hurd.

This discovery is also supported by data from previous research done by John Manning of the University of Central Lancashire in England. Manning was the first to provide compelling evidence linking early testosterone exposure and finger-length ratio.

To collect the data for the research, Hurd and Bailey enlisted 300 students from first-year psychology classes. They measured their finger lengths by placing their hands on a flatbed scanner to scan and measure them. Hurd and Bailey then administered a psychology questionnaire to all the participants to determine the aggressive tendencies of each person.

The study also looked at verbal aggression, anger and hostility. But the researchers didn’t find any correlation between these traits and finger ratio.

“It first looked like people who had a more feminine digit ratio scored higher on verbal aggression, which is kind of sassy. But in the end, that turned out to be a data mirage,” Hurd said.

Hurd admitted determining physical aggression with questionnaires leaves room for skepticism, and plans to work on this aspect a little further to bolster his findings.

“I want to get some evidence that people who score high on these aggression questions are really more physically aggressive,” Hurd said.

In the future, Hurd plans to extend his research beyond undergraduate students and into the realm of the hockey rink. He would like to see whether there is any correlation between the finger lengths of male hockey players and their penalty minutes.

“We collected penalty minutes served for aggressive violations from the U of A hockey team as well as NAIT (Northern Alberta Institute of Technology) and Grant MacEwan (College) teams, and data on their hands. So we’re going to see if players that have relatively shorter index fingers will serve more penalty minutes,” said Hurd.

In addition to this, Hurd plans to do animal studies to determine where variations of digit ratios come from.

“We’d like to find out how much of it is due to environment and mental influences during pregnancy. “

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