Finger length ratio hints at angry mouth

U. BUFFALO (US) — Men and women with a smaller ratio between the lengths of their fourth and second fingers report themselves to be more verbally aggressive, new research shows.

Research on the communication trait of verbal aggressiveness, which includes behavior like name calling, ridicule, insults, racial epithets, and threats, has tended to focus on its social causes.

However, a new study by a team of researchers led by Allison Z. Shaw, assistant professor of communication at the University at Buffalo, has found that verbal aggression may have biological causes that can be identified by the ratio of length of a person’s ring finger (second digit) to the length of the index finger (fourth digit).

It is the first study to use the 2D:4D ratio—considered a measure of prenatal testosterone exposure—as a determinant of verbal aggression.

Shaw says prior research has suggested that the 2D:4D ratio can be used as a measure of exposure to androgens in utero (testosterone being a type of androgen), and a number of studies have shown a correlation between the 2D:4D ratio and various physical and behavioral traits.

The research team hypothesized that if prenatal exposure to testosterone influences the 2D:4D ratio and high levels of prenatal testosterone exposure are linked to verbal aggression, then digital ratio could predict the trait of verbal aggression.

To test this, they first measured the finger length of adult subjects from the point where fingers meet the palm to the tip, then photocopied each hand palm down and made the same measurements. From these results they calculated each subject’s 2D:4D ratio.

The subjects then filled out the Verbal Aggression Scale and the HEXACO Personality Inventory and the Argumentativeness Scale.

As reported in the Journal of Communication, the team found that men and women with smaller 2D:4D ratio reported themselves to be more verbally aggressive.

“These findings have implications for our understanding of the proximal and distal causes of verbal aggression,” Shaw says.

“They suggest,” she says, “that verbally aggressive behavior may be provoked by biologically based differences in people’s attention to potentially threatening stimuli (such as a sigh), their appraisal of the stimuli as threatening, and the resulting decision to respond and produce messages that are verbally aggressive.

“This study is the first step in gaining a better understanding of this process,” says Shaw, “and may allow us to develop more sophisticated techniques to inhibit such types of responses.”

Source: University at Buffalo

chat7 Comments


  1. Dirk

    I think the people with short fingers, taking the ‘research test’, have had trouble all their lives holding a pencil comfortably. This makes them angry. So, therefore, people with short fingers are associated with anger. Brilliant.

    Tell me this article is really an excerpt from The Onion. Please? I don’t want to believe we actually spend money on this garbage!

  2. SlimDunkin

    Dirk. You, sir, are an idiot.

  3. Kay

    It is funny also Dirk, you are reading this stuff that is being researched.

  4. Judy

    Dirk: I think your 2D-4D ratio is suspect!

  5. Pierce Timberlake

    An earlier study (March 2005) stated similar findings, but indicated that finger-length ratio related to physical aggression but not to verbal, and also stated that the findings applied to men, but not women.

    It never tell you, as far as I can see, what a normal finger-length ratio is, so if you’re looking curiously sat your own fingers, it doesn’t help you much.

  6. LorenaBobbedIt

    Fascinating – Look at the people that are critical of Dirk! Perhaps they need to look at their own 2D 4D ratio. And what about Dirk makes them feel threatened? :o) You know what they say about the length of a man’s fingers…

  7. Dirk Faegre

    I have come to the realization that it’s appropriate for me to order finger stretchers for myself. It’s clear from this research that if I ‘adjust’ the length of fingers ‘correctly’, I can lower my anger quotient. If everyone with short fingers would follow suit we might be able to solve most of the world’s critical issues. Who knew it would be so simple! My recommendation? Buy stock in finger stretcher companies. Quickly, before this goes viral. You heard it here first.

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