Digit ratio (2D:4D) predicts self-reported measures of general competitiveness, but not behavior in economic experiments

Werner Bönte*, Vivien D. Procher, Diemo Urbig, Martin Voracek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The ratio of index finger length to ring finger length (2D:4D) is considered to be a putative biomarker of prenatal androgen exposure (PAE), with previous research suggesting that 2D:4D is associated with human behaviors, especially sex-typical behaviors. This study empirically examines the relationship between 2D:4D and individual competitiveness, a behavioral trait that is found to be sexually dimorphic. We employ two related, but distinct, measures of competitiveness, namely behavioral measures obtained from economic experiments and psychometric self-reported measures. Our analyses are based on two independent data sets obtained from surveys and economic experiments with 461 visitors of a shopping mall (Study I) and 617 university students (Study II). The correlation between behavior in the economic experiment and digit ratios of both hands is not statistically significant in either study. In contrast, we find a negative and statistically significant relationshipbetween psychometric self-reportedmeasures of competitiveness and right hand digit ratios (R2D:4D) in both studies. This relationship is especially strong for younger people. Hence, this study provides some robust empirical evidence for a negative association between R2D:4D and self-reported competitiveness. We discuss potential reasons why digit ratio may relate differently to behaviors in specific economics experiments and to self-reported general competitiveness.

Original languageEnglish
Article number238
JournalFrontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 8 Dec 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • 2D:4D
  • Competition
  • Competitiveness
  • Digit ratio
  • Prenatal androgen exposure


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