These ARE Spirit Fingers!: What Digit Length Means for Your Health

Your fingers may be telling you more than you think.

Look at your hand. Go ahead: Look at your hand right now. Is your index finger longer or shorter than your ring finger? If it’s shorter, you’re inclined to be physically aggressive and, if you’re a women, you’re also more likely to develop osteoarthritis.

Does this sound like palm-reading mumbo-jumbo? The latest issue of Discover magazine has a whole article on why it’s not—and on some other mind-bending findings from the field of what scientists call “digit ratio.” Such diverse characteristics as verbal and physical aggression and athleticism have been linked to the shape of one’s hands.

As University of Alberta neuroscientist Pete Hurd explains it, boy babies experience a “surge in testosterone” in mid-second trimester that usually makes their ring fingers longer than their index fingers. Researchers are studying other hormonal changes as well as diet and stress levels in pregnancy to try to tease out what causes what. But findings so far include:

Ring finger longer than index finger correlates with:

• In women, an improved sense of direction (more testosterone = more “male-like” in terms of spatial cognition).

• In men, an increase in the likelihood of picking fights; in women, an increase in the likelihood of reacting to provocation with aggression.

• In men, an increased risk-taking behavior (the article notes that success in financial trading in men correlates with longest ring-finger length).

• In men and women, a high level of athleticism and mental toughness in sports.

• In women, an increased risk of osteoarthritis of the knees.

• In both men and women, an inclination toward “verbal sparring,” a.k.a. bitchiness.

Index finger longer than ring finger correlates with:

• In men, an increased incidence of oral cancer, but a reduced risk of prostate cancer.

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