Giving The Finger To Track

Finger length may be a simple way to tell if a woman has the potential to be a tennis star like Serena Williams or a top runner like Paula Radcliffe.
A King’s College London team found women whose ring finger is longer than their index finger are more likely to achieve higher levels in sport.

The ratio between the fingers has already been linked to traits in men like cognitive ability and sperm count.

The study appears online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

The researchers, from King’s Twin Research Unit, examined hand X-ray images of 607 female twins aged 25-79 from the UK.

In each case they measured the lengths of the second and fourth fingers of each hand.

It has always been said that in order to succeed in high level sport you need to chose your parents carefully

John Brewer

The volunteers also ranked their highest level of achievement in a list of 12 sports on a questionnaire.

The researchers found women with longer fourth fingers were significantly more likely to be among the top achievers in all the sports listed.

Running ability

In particular, they were likely to excel at running, and sports such as football and tennis, which require running prowess.

Lead researcher Professor Tim Spector said: "The reasons for these findings are unclear.

"Previous studies have suggested the change in finger length was due to changes in testosterone levels in the womb but we also found that finger length was 70% heritable with little influence of the womb environment.

“This suggests that genes are the main factor and that finger length is a marker of your genes.”

The ratio between the two fingers is fixed before birth and remains constant during life.

As this is the case, the researchers suggest that examining finger length may help to identify talented individuals at an early, pre-competitive stage.

No specific genes have yet been identified that control finger length.

Experts believe it is likely that multiple genes are responsible.

John Brewer, director of the Lucozade Sports Science Academy, said: "It has always been said that in order to succeed in high level sport you need to chose your parents carefully, because genetic characteristics do play a huge role.

“Identifying a single physiological indicator to show whether somebody has a predisposition for high level sport is, in effect, the holy grail of talent identification programmes.”

However, Mr Brewer said it was unlikely that one physical indicator could predict ability across the whole range of sports, as the attributes required to succeed varied so widely.

He also stressed that UK sports authorities were as keen to encourage widespread participation, as to promote exceptional talent.

Wooho I’ve got a long 4th finger. Too bad I’m not a woman :rolleyes:

Finger length ‘key to aggression’

Finger length is linked to testosterone exposure in the womb
The length of a man’s fingers can reveal how physically aggressive he is, Canadian scientists have said.
The shorter the index finger is compared to the ring finger, the more boisterous he will be, University of Alberta researchers said.

But the same was not true for verbal aggression or hostile behaviours, they told the journal Biological Psychology after studying 300 people’s fingers.

The trend is thought to be linked to testosterone exposure in the womb.

Hand hints

It has been known for some time that there is a direct correlation between finger lengths and the amount of the male sex hormone testosterone that a baby is exposed to in the womb.

In women, the two fingers are usually almost equal in length, as measured from the crease nearest the palm to the fingertip. In men, the ring finger tends to be much longer than the index.

Other studies looking at finger length ratio have suggested that, in men, a long ring finger and symmetrical hands are an indication of fertility, and that women are more likely to be fertile if they have a longer index finger.

Finger length can tell you a little bit about where personality comes from

Researcher Dr Peter Hurd

One study found boys with shorter ring fingers tended to be at greatest risk of a heart attack in early adulthood, which was linked to testosterone levels.

In the current study, Dr Peter Hurd and his student Allison Bailey measured the fingers of 300 undergraduates at their university.

Men with the shortest index fingers scored higher on measures of physical aggression than those with longer index fingers, but the study’s findings did not apply to women.

Dr Hurd is now looking at male hockey players to see whether there is any correlation between finger lengths and each player’s penalty record for contact and fouling during matches.

Window to the soul?

He has also been looking at whether men with more feminine finger lengths might be more prone to depression.

He said: "Finger length can tell you a little bit about where personality comes from.

“A large part of our personalities and our traits are determined while we are still in the womb.”

But he said finger length should not be used to draw too many conclusions about an individual person.

“For example, you wouldn’t want to screen people for certain jobs based on their finger lengths.”

I could predict reasonably well who was going to win based on their finger length

Professor John Manning
University of Central Lancashire

Professor John Manning from the University of Central Lancashire’s department of psychology, who first realised that sex hormone exposure in the womb influences finger length, agreed.

He said certain individual characteristics correlate better with finger length than others.

"For example, if you had a group of runners and they were about to start a race I could predict reasonably well who was going to win based on their finger length.

“But I would not be able to predict whether someone was neurotic or not.”

He said Dr Hurd’s findings were logical based on what we know about finger length, testosterone exposure and aggression, but said more research was needed to confirm the findings.

He said another recent study had found women exposed to higher levels of testosterone in the womb, and hence a more ‘male’ pattern of finger length, displayed more frustrated behaviour when answering challenging telephone calls than other women.

Finger length heart attack clue

A long ring finger may be good news

The length of a young boy’s finger may provide a clue as to whether he will be at risk of a heart attack in early adulthood.
Scientists at Liverpool University have established a link between the length of baby boys’ fingers and their chances of going on to have a heart attack at an unusually young age.

They believe the link could provide doctors with a simple way to to spot potential heart disease victims at a very early age.

The longer your ring finger, the more protected you are against heart attack

Dr John Manning
The research shows that boys with shorter ring fingers tend to be at greatest risk.

This is because these boys tend to have lower levels of the male sex hormone testosterone, which is known to protect against heart attack.

The genes that are indirectly responsible for the production of testosterone and the female hormone oestrogen also control the development of the fingers.

Relatively long

Finger measurement
Divide the length of your index finger by the length of your ring finger to give the ratio
For the average male in Britain, this figure is about 0.97
Below 0.9 an individual is unlikely to have a heart attack early in life. Above 1.00 the risk climbs
Lead researcher Dr John Manning told the BBC: "Males tend to have a relatively longer ring finger compared to the index finger than females.

"This is a very early trait and it is under the influence of sex hormones.

"For a man, the ring finger tends to be about 2% longer than the index finger. The longer your ring finger, the more protected you are against heart attack, because the more testosterone you have.

“There is a relationship between the ratio between these two finger lengths and the age at heart attack of people who do have heart attacks.”

The ratio between the two fingers remains the same throughout life.

Short ring fingers did not necessarily mean that boys would go on to have heart attacks, but should alert their parents to do what they can to lessen the risk.

Dr Manning said: “This is an indicator of risk independent of things like smoking and diet, so you can adjust your diet and stop smoking and so on, if you are in a high-risk group.”

Dr Manning and Dr Peter Bundred examined 151 male heart attack victims in Merseyside.

They found the age range for heart attacks in men where the index finger was relatively long was 35 to 80 years of age, but in those with relatively long ring fingers it was 58 to 80.

Dr Manning has previously uncovered links between finger-length and vulnerability to depression and sporting ability.

The research is to be published in the British Journal of Cardiology.



Dr John Manning
“There is a relationship between finger lengths and the age at heart attack”

See also:

22 Aug 01 | Health
Weekend heart risk for young men
15 Mar 01 | Health
Obsessives risk heart attacks
17 Aug 01 | Health
New test for heart attack damage
Internet links:

British Heart Foundation
National Heart Forum
University of Liverpool

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For example, if you had a group of runners and they were about to start a race I could predict reasonably well who was going to win based on their finger length.

A group of non-competitive runners I would guess. The funny thing is that reports such as this are proving the exact opposite of what the writer (not necessarily the scientist) think they are, namely that predictions of success based on only one set of qualities are meaningless in real life.