View Full Version : Finger Length May Predict Academic Performance: Bath U. Study

May 31st, 2007, 06:48 AM
Finger length points towards exam results

James Meikle, education correspondent
Wednesday May 23, 2007

The length of children's fingers could point the way to their future school tests and exam results, researchers said yesterday.Those with a relatively long fourth, or ring, finger are likely to be better at maths than English, a difference particularly striking in boys. But girls whose ring fingers are smaller in relation to their index finger are likely to be stronger in literacy.

The findings, from a study of 75 six and seven-year-olds sitting primary school Sats, add to growing evidence that differences in finger length might help predict traits or abilities such as sporting prowess, vulnerability to disease, aggression, fertility and sexual orientation.

Scientists believe finger length reflects levels of hormones to which babies are exposed in the womb, although recent research has suggested genetics plays a strong part. Women's index fingers are typically longer than their ring fingers or are the same length, while in men the index finger is usually shorter.

Mark Brosnan, head of the psychology department at Bath University, said: "Testosterone has been argued to promote development of the area of the brain which are often associated with spatial and mathematical skills. Oestrogen is thought to do the same in the areas of the brain which are often associated with verbal ability. These hormones are also thought to have a say in the relative lengths of our index and ring fingers."

The researchers, whose study is due to be published in the British Journal of Psychology, made photocopies of the hands of 33 boys and 42 girls and measured the finger lengths with calipers accurate to a hundredth of a millimetre. The differences between Sats results depending on the relative lengths of their fingers were small but significant.

"We are not suggesting that finger length measurements could replace Sat tests," said Dr Brosnan, "It won't directly predict grades. But if you had a girl with a very long fourth finger relative to her second, it might be that she was more oriented towards science and maths."

Social factors and commitment obviously played a part too. For instance, girls going to single-sex schools were more likely to choose maths and science subjects than at co-educational schools, he added.

It would be interesting to know how the same boys and girls compared at Sats at 11, GCSEs and university entrance, said Dr Brosnan.

The team is also looking at how such "digit ratios" relate to other behavioural issues, such as technophobia, career paths and developmental disorders such as dyslexia.
Dr Brosnan said: "Interesting things happen at puberty and suddenly you get surges of circulating hormones and we don't know how these interact. There is animal research to say these do interact so if you are exposed to a lot of testosterone in the womb, you may be sensitive to circulating testosterone too."

EducationGuardian.co.uk Guardian News and Media Limited 2007


This made international news.

(So how did ya'll measure up?)