The length of a person’s fingers could reveal whether someone is more likely to order ‘masculine’ food like burgers or ‘feminine’ food like salads, a new study claims.
Researchers looked at people’s 2D:4D digit ratios – the difference in length between the index and ring finger – and how this related to their food choices.
A lower 2D:4D digit ratio (having a longer ring finger than index finger) is said to indicate higher exposure to testosterone in the womb – and is therefore suggestive of masculinity.
In experiments, hungry people with low digit ratios made more masculine food choices – regardless of whether they were actually men or women.
Some have criticised the 2D:4D digit ratio for a lack of reliability – but this study does suggest it’s linked with food choices typically perceived as masculine or feminine.
People whose ring and index fingers were of a similar length were more likely to pick from a ‘masculine’ group of foods that included burgers, chips, full-fat Coke and hard liquor, as opposed to a ‘feminine,’ group that offered salad, wine and Diet Coke
The study, by the University of Agder, found people with similarly sized index and ring fingers were more likely to pick from the masculine section, which included burgers, steaks, full-fat Coke, lobster and hard liquor.
2D:4D DIGIT RATIO
The 2D:4D digit ratio is a biomarker that reflects the level of testosterone a male was exposed to in the womb during pregnancy.
2D:4D digit ratio is the ratio between the length of a person’s index finger (2D) and ring finger (4D).
It’s calculated by dividing as ring finger length by index finger length.
A lower 2D:4D digit ratio is said to indicate higher exposure to testosterone in the womb – and is therefore suggestive of masculinity.
Meanwhile, a higher 2D:4D digit ratio is said to indicate lower exposure to testosterone in the womb – and is therefore suggestive of femininity.
People with longer index fingers chose the ‘feminine,’ section, which offered salads, Diet Coke, white wine and shrimps.
When people were hungry, masculine digit ratios led to masculine food choices, the study found.
However, this effect only works when people were hungry – 2D:4D digit ratios did not effectively predict satiated people’s food choices.
Overall, this study hints at a wider link between prenatal testosterone exposure and eating habits as adults.
‘This research helps us understand whether bodily cues linked to sex hormone exposure may be associated with our food preferences,’ said study author Professor Tobias Otterbring at the University of Agder, Norway.
‘As people’s stated hunger levels were linked to different food preferences in our study, this suggests that hunger may moderate the connection between biologically-based factors and consumer choice.’
This study investigated the link between individuals’ 2D:4D digit ratio (a biomarker associated with prenatal testosterone exposure) and their inclination to make masculine food choices – and whether this potential association would be moderated by consumers’ levels of hunger.
‘A lower digit ratio is said to indicate higher prenatal testosterone exposure and a higher digit ratio is said to indicate lower prenatal testosterone exposure,’ said Professor Otterbring.
A higher 2D:4D digit ratio (right) is said to indicate lower exposure to testosterone in the womb – and is therefore suggestive of femininity. A lower 2D:4D digit ratio (left) is said to indicate higher exposure to testosterone in the womb – and is therefore suggestive of masculinity
‘You can have a big difference in the length between your index and ring fingers and still have both a low and a high digit ratio.
‘The question is where this difference is – one person may have a long index finger and a short ring finger, while another person may have a short index finger and a long ring finger.’
For the study, researchers recruited 216 Chinese people, half of whom were women and half men, all with an average age of 27 years.
Participants for the study made a set of choices between food items that had already been perceived by a different set of volunteers as either masculine or feminine, on a 7-point scale (1 = feminine; 7 = masculine).
HOW CAN YOU MEASURE YOUR 2D:4D RATIO?
To measure your finger straighten it and look at the palm of your hand.
At the base of your index and ring fingers there are likely to be creases. Your index finger is likely to have one crease, the ring finger is a band of creases.
Select the crease closest to the palm and choose a point on the crease midway across the base of the finger.
Mark it with a pen. Measure it from the mark to the tip of the finger.
To measure your finger straighten it and look at the palm of your hand. At the base of your index and ring fingers there are likely to be creases. Your index finger is likely to have one crease, the ring finger is a band of creases
These food terms included shrimps (feminine) or lobster (masculine); Diet Coke (f) or Coca-Cola (m); and Caesar salad (f) or hamburger with chips (m).
There was a recurring theme to the ‘masculine’ food items compared to the ‘feminine’ ones – they tended to be bulkier, fattier and less healthy, indicating that men like to be perceived as risk takers when it comes to eating.
Participants had their 2D:4D digit ratio measured and also self-reported their gender identity and how hungry they were at the time of the study, before opting for their food choices.
The results showed that regardless of their gender, hungry consumers with masculine (low) digit ratios made more masculine food choices.
Drinking and dining items were intended to differ significantly in terms of their perceived gender image – for example, Diet Coke is specific to women, according to the research paper
This association applied to both men and women – in other words, 2D:4D digit ratios were a more effective measure of what food they would predict than their actual sex.
MASCULINE OR FEMININE FOOD?
Shrimps (f) or lobster (m)
Fillet of fish (f) or fillet of beef (m)
Diet Coke (f) or Coca-Cola (m)
Caesar salad (f) or burger with fries (m)
White wine (f) or hard liquor (m)
However, hunger appeared to be the trigger for this effect to work.
‘The specific visceral state of hunger interacted with participants’ digit ratios to predict choices of masculine foods,’ the researchers say in their paper.
‘Although digit ratios are generally unassociated with gender-congruent food choices, consumers with masculine (vs. feminine) digit ratios are particularly prone to prefer and choose food options with a masculine gender image when they are hungry, but not when they are satiated.
‘Taken together, these findings expand the knowledge on when and how prenatal exposure to sex hormones may affect consumers’ food preferences and in which specific way a particular visceral state may moderate the link between biologically based factors and consumer choice.’
The team also found that consumers with feminine (high) digit ratios did not change their choices according to their hunger levels.
One limitation of the study is that participants self-reported their subjective sense of hunger, which may have been unreliable.
‘While the hunger index showed satisfactory reliability and has been used in previous related research, the robustness of the findings should be tested in future work utilising more objective tools,’ researchers say in their paper, published in Food Quality and Preference.
Professor Otterbring also acknowledged the perceived limitations to the 2D:4D digit ratio.
‘It is indeed a debated measure, with some studies finding a link between digit ratios and testosterone levels, and with other studies failing to obtain such a link,’ he told MailOnline.
‘As such, it seems to be reasonable to interpret this link with appropriate caution, and to follow the development of this stream of literature.’
WHAT HAVE STUDIES ON FINGER LENGTH SHOWN?
AFFAIRS – Women with long index fingers are more likely to have affairs
Women with long index fingers on their left hands are more likely to have affairs, a study by Oxford University revealed.
The findings surprised scientists as having a longer index finger is associated with having more typical female characteristics.
The longer index finger and shorter ring finger have been linked to being exposed to higher levels of female sex hormones in the womb.
It was assumed that women who were ‘more feminised’ would be more likely to be satisfied with their romantic relationships, and to be less impulsive.
Being more exposed to the sex hormone oestrogen in the womb leads to women’s index fingers growing longer than their ring finger.
By contrast, being exposed to more of the male sex hormone testosterone in the womb has a more ‘masculinising’ effect – and results in a longer ring finger and a shorter index finger.
SEXUALITY – Women with longer ring fingers are more likely to be lesbian
Women whose ring fingers are longer than their index digits more likely to be lesbian, according to a study by Essex University.
Researchers looked at sets of identical twins where one of the siblings was heterosexual.
They found that the homosexual twin tended to have a greater difference between the length of their index and ring finger, with the difference most pronounced among women.
Previous research has indicated that exposure to the male hormone testosterone in the womb could be linked to differences in finger length and also to sexuality.
Women’s index and ring fingers are typically of similar length while in men there is a greater difference.
Both men and women are exposed to the ‘male’ hormone testosterone in the womb.
VOICE – Babies are more likely to have squeaky voices if the index finger is longer than their ring finger
University of Sussex scientists found there could be a link between the length of a child’s fingers and the pitch of their voice.
A baby is more likely to grow to have a squeaky voice if the index finger on their right hands is longer than the ring finger, the research suggested.
Similarly, scientists said the connection is probably the result of a lack of testosterone in the womb.
Testosterone is known to be key to early body growth and plays an important role in how vocal pitch develops during puberty.
JOB – Women with long ring fingers are more likely to have a traditionally female job
A woman’s choice of career is linked to the length of her fingers, according to a study by the National Research University in Russia.
Women whose index finger was short compared to their ring finger were more likely to have what was regarded as a traditionally male job, such as a lawyer or a manager in industry, the researchers found.
And those whose index finger was longer than their ring finger were more likely to be employed in a stereotypically female career, such as nursing or primary school teaching.
For the study, researchers from the National Research University in Russia analysed data from 1,500 men and women whose fingers were measured using digital callipers.
They found that significant differences in the 2D:4D differences were observed only for women and mostly for the left hand.
SHARING – Children with longer ring fingers are less likely to share
Children who have index fingers shorter than their ring fingers are less likely to share their toys, research by the University of Vienna suggests.
Evidence already exists to show they are more aggressive – but the new study shows they are also more selfish – and won’t even share with friends.
It is known those who have an index finger that is shorter than their ring finger are exposed to greater amounts of testosterone in the womb because the hormone affects the development of finger length.
Anthropologists argue that higher levels of the hormone during pregnancy leads to a ‘masculinisation effect’ in both boys and girls. Testosterone levels remain high as children age.
Austrian experts observed the habits of dozens of boys and girls given the choice of who gets glittery stickers to make the conclusion.