Digit Ratio


I watched an interesting piece today that no longer exists on YouTube now about digit ratio. When we are still developing in the womb as foetuses, the amounts of testosterone that we are exposed to has a great deal of impact in determining how we will turn out. Unfortunately as expected for most of us studying the composition of the amniotic fluid is impossible as it’s likely long gone, but there are different ways to determine how much testosterone you were exposed to.

The way you can determine this is to look at your hands, specifically the right hand. For most men, their ring finger will be longer than your index finger - the longer your ring finger, the more testosterone you were exposed to while a foetus and the more likely you are to have certain traits.

In one experiment in the video, based on the difference between these two fingers, one researcher was able to determine the order in which several people would finish a race, and he was almost able to get it exactly right apart from two places which were switched around.

For women, their skills tend to be more in terms of relationships and communication - on example showed that baby girls tended to look at faces. For men however, they are more interested in things and objects and baby boys tended to look at anything but faces, many also stating that they had some trouble with relationships - hence bringing about this trope that men need things explained to them in relationships, I suppose.

But for some women their ring fingers can be longer (it’s unknown to me whether men can have shorter ring fingers instead). For these women, they’re likely to be better at technical skills such as operating a crane which requires more hand-eye coordination - the woman in this show who had this trait was an engineer.

At this point in the show I began to wonder - if the type of skills we have is this greatly influenced by hormones and predetermined from our birth, what kind of choice do I have as to the kind of future I want. What happens to autonomy? Does it actually exist? At this point I’m feeling cheated by the world - my index finger is longer than my ring-finger. So does this in fact seal my fate as someone who has no chance at being technical with no male traits?

It seems that this is not quite the case though. In a further example during the show, men and women change babies and we observe the different methods that they employ. For the women, they forge a relationship with the child, picking him/her up after the changing has finished. For most of the men however, they treat changing the baby as simply a task - after they have completed the baby changing they step away and look around as if to ask ‘Okay, what’s next?’

However for one man, who himself was aware of his difficulties in forging relationships with others, he acted the same as the women as he picked the child up and talked to him/her during the nappy changing process. Being aware of these weaknesses allows us to work to achieve what might not be something that comes naturally to us, but it isn’t impossible.

This was just a few of the things mentioned in the show, which was really quite interesting in uncovering the hows and whys of what makes men and women different. I’m someone who’s very interested in gender and the things surrounding it, and it’s unfortunate I can’t share this study anymore with the rest of you. What’s important to take away from this though is while we have these natural skills as a result of how we developed or what gender we are, each person is also a mosaic who is made up of a combination of ‘male skills’ and ‘female skills’ which can rate us at various places on the spectrum depending on which trait, skill or measurement we want to focus on.

While this show was pretty extensive in what it explored, it still doesn’t explain to me why my index finger is longer than my ring finger as “the second digit is typically shorter in both females and males”. It looks like I will have to do some more research in order to figure this out, or perhaps even look at John Manning’s book.