14 March 2005

Pointing The Finger At Aggressive Men

by Kate Melville

Finger length continues to be an area of fascination for researchers around the world. Hot on the heels of research that showed a correlation between finger length and sexual preference, comes a new study that notes the statistical match-up between finger length and aggressiveness.

Author of the study, Peter Hurd, thought the whole idea was nonsense but he changed his mind when he saw the data. Hurd and co-researcher Allison Bailey have shown that a man's index finger length relative to ring finger length can predict how inclined that man is to be physically aggressive. Women, apparently, do not show a similar effect.

The researchers, from the University of Alberta, said that it has been known for more than a century that the length of the index finger relative to the ring finger differs between men and women. More recently, researchers have found a direct correlation between finger lengths and the amount of testosterone that a fetus is exposed to in the womb. The shorter the index finger relative to the ring finger, the higher the amount of prenatal testosterone received.

The new study, in Biological Psychology, shows that it is also more likely he will be physically aggressive throughout his life. They found there was no correlation between finger lengths and people who are prone to exhibit verbally aggressive or angry behaviors, but there was a correlation to physically aggressive behavior.

"More than anything, I think the findings reinforce and underline that a large part of our personalities and our traits are determined while we're still in the womb," said Hurd. "Finger length can tell you a little bit about where personality comes from, and that's what we are continuing to explore."

Hurd is conducting ongoing research in this area, including a study that involves measuring hockey players' finger lengths and cross referencing the results with each player's penalty minutes.