Scientists run new rings around the strayer-or-stayer question | world | Hindustan Times
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Scientists run new rings around the strayer-or-stayer question

If your index finger is shorter than the ring finger, you are more likely to stray than stay in relationships, according to new research by experts at the universities of Oxford and Northumbria. And the conclusion holds for both men and women, they say.

world Updated: Feb 07, 2015 14:10 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar

If your index finger is shorter than the ring finger, you are more likely to stray than stay in relationships, according to new research by experts at the universities of Oxford and Northumbria. And the conclusion holds for both men and women, they say.

The results, published in the journal Biology Letters, are from a study jointly carried out by Robin Dunbar of Oxford University and John Manning at Northumbria University.

The researchers analysed previously collected answers from 575 North American and British people on a standardized questionnaire which assesses an individual’s attitudes and desires towards ‘non-committal’ sex. They also looked at photocopies of the right hand from 1,314 British men and women, a release from the University of Oxford said. From these photocopies, they measured the length of the index (second) finger and the ring (fourth) finger. The shorter the index finger in relation to the ring finger (the 2D:4D ratio), the higher the levels of testosterone that person is likely to have been exposed to while developing in the womb. This is true for both men and women.

The release added that from previous work, the researchers already knew that the higher levels of foetal testosterone can go together with greater sexual promiscuity as an adult. While not predictive of individual behaviour, the length of the ring finger versus the index finger can help identify the group of people who are more likely to be promiscuous.

The statistical analysis of sexual attitudes data found that the distribution of people’s answers was ‘bimodal,’ ie., it clumped into two distinct groups. One group corresponded to people who were more likely to value sexual fidelity, with the other group more likely to be promiscuous. This bimodal distribution was there for both men and women.

The analysis of the finger lengths similarly found that both men and women tended to segregate into two groups. One group had a ring finger which was much longer than the index finger, suggesting that they had been exposed to more testosterone in the womb and may be more likely to seek many sexual partners. The other group had fingers which similar in length, making them more likely to seek long-term relationships.