November 10, 2010
Fetal Testosterone Exposure Boosts Male Risk Taking

Testosterone before birth make men take greater risks in all aspects of life.

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.

If your ring finger is longer than your index finger (the finger you use to point at things) then you were exposed to more testosterone. I bet most female CEOs have long ring fingers. Ditto for Wall Street traders and male CEOs for that matter.

You've got to take risks to achieve big successes.

"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.

What I wonder: Once it becomes possible to control fetal testosterone exposure will expectant parents opt to make their male or their female babies more aggressive and masculine? To put it another way: Will the incidence of longer ring fingers be higher 50 years from now?

What I also wonder: Will ways be found to modulate and funnel risk-taking behavior to make it more focused on financial success? Will parents opt to make their kids rather like Ferengi with a stronger focus on acquisition? This seems doable. There are probably genes that boost risks of becoming gambling addicts that are separate from genes that boost more constructive forms of risk-taking.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 November 10 08:15 PM  Brain Sex Differences

ParRim Jim said at November 10, 2010 10:52 PM:

Women with longer ring fingers have longer to change their mind as their wedding ring is being slipped on. Perhaps that's why they are more likely to become CEOs.

bbartlog said at November 11, 2010 6:39 AM:

'Ditto for Wall Street traders and male CEOs for that matter.'

But probably also convenience store robbers, car accident victims and the bankrupt. Just saying, focusing entirely on those for whom the risk-taking paid off might not give you a full picture of the implications. You'd certainly want some other good attributes to go with that disposition, starting with high executive function...

Lono said at November 11, 2010 8:01 AM:


Guess I got that fetal shot!

Don't hate the player y'all - hate the game!


(I wonder if it also influences penis size - cuz' I got a full house on that draw too!)

Testosterone FTW!!!

Of course - I need those advantages - because my financial risk taking has left my wallet a little light...

cbpelto said at November 14, 2010 11:27 AM:

TO: All
RE: A Validation Test

I recommend someone visit the 82d Airborne Division and examine the fingers of all the studly, young paratroopers there. I mean, talk about 'risk taking'. Try jumping out of a perfectly good airplane in flight with 64+ other wild and crazy guys.


[Fury from the Sky -- Motto of 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment]

gottaknow said at November 14, 2010 11:43 AM:

Okay, what if the ring finger on one hand is longer than that hand's index, but on the other hand the index is a hair longer than its neighboring ringie?

Steve said at November 14, 2010 1:56 PM:

"Will ways be found to modulate and funnel risk-taking behavior to make it more focused on financial success?"

Risk taking behavior does not necessarily lead to financial success. I expect that from the perspective of men as a group, its a wash. Some men win via risk taking, and other men lose.

cbpelto said at November 14, 2010 2:07 PM:

TO: Randall Parker & Steve
RE: Measuring 'Success'

Will ways be found to modulate and funnel risk-taking behavior to make it more focused on financial success? -- Randall

Success is measured by more than mere 'financial' params....

In the military, success is measured by 'luck', e.g., survival and mission accomplishment.


[Amateurs study tactics. Professional soldiers study logistics.]

Some Sleazeball said at November 15, 2010 5:38 AM:

As sleazy as it is, I may second the "penis size" comment. Index finger way shorter, Magnum XL-size. Just correlation or causation?

Suburbanbanshee said at November 15, 2010 6:16 AM:

Both my ring fingers are longer, and I'm a cautious sort of girl who never takes risks, dresses conservatively, and doesn't enjoy adrenaline or sports. My hobbies are reading and reading.

Science fail!

Lono said at November 15, 2010 11:06 AM:


Good science is never prudish!

Turns out after Googling it - that yeah - there is a well established connection there also in previous studies.

In fact - there are some doctors who think testosterone levels during pregnancy should be monitored to avoid low levels unnecessarily causing a micro-penis disorder.

Likely engineered astronauts would benefit getting increased levels of testosterone in utero as well...

Mark R. said at February 24, 2014 4:38 AM:

It doesn't matter if your fingers are long or to more testosterone or less..what matters is how you live your life.if you're lazy then you will not reach anything in life..but if your diligent, then your future is bright..if you can achieve higher,then most probably girls will be attracted to you...=)

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