The Other I

June 19, 2010

Fingering it out

Filed under: Intriguing Science,Uncategorized — theotheri @ 2:46 pm
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If a person’s ring finger is longer than their index finger, the chances are that he or she will tend to have some characteristics that are considered to be more male than female.

And indeed, to have a ring finger longer than the index finger is much rarer in females than in males.  Those females who have it may be better than average in mathematical and analytical abilities, be more prone to take risks, or even be better at a game like soccer.

The assumption has long been that this strange correlation is a result of a burst of testosterone in utero when both the fingers and the brain are developing.

Makes sense, but it seems to be wrong. The long ring “finger” seems to be apparent even in birds, with accompanying male and female emphases of male characteristics.  But in birds at least it seems to be due not to the male hormone testosterone, but to a surfeit of the female hormone oestrogen.

Interesting, no?  Who would have predicted that the female hormone would be responsible for emphasizing male characteristics?  I wonder if increased testosterone is associated with emphasized female characteristics.

For myself, my ring fingers suggests that I should be pretty good at fixing things.  But I’m ghastly at soccer.  In fact, I was nominated at the worst player in our senior high school basketball team, which itself was the only senior team in the entire history of the school that was ever beaten by the freshmen.  My class wanted to elect me as the captain, but the nuns said no.  Apparently basketball was too serious to be frivolous about.

I was rather hoping for the honour of captaining the team myself.  It’s a big disappointment that has remained with me all these years.  I’m sure it has greatly undermined my self-confidence.

I am not going to have access to my computer for the next ten days so I won’t be blogging again until July 1st.    If you would like to know when there’s a new post,  click on the tab in the right-hand column to get an email.

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