You’ve heard of tarot-card readers, crystal ball readers, and palm readers. A researcher at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology was a finger reader, and the results were fascinating. He found that by comparing the lengths of a woman’s index finger and ring finger, he could predict if she was likely to be more anxious or a good athlete.
To conduct the study, researcher Dr. Carl Pintzka photocopied the hands of women and used that flat image to measure their index and ring fingers. He gave half the women a drop of testosterone, and the other half, a placebo. And he had the women solve mental tasks, including navigating a virtual maze and mentally rotating three-dimensional objects. His goal: to test a theory about finger length, testosterone, and how the human brain works.
The established theory is that an index finger that is short or shorter compared to the ring finger means a woman has been exposed to a large amount of testosterone in the womb, while a longer index finger means a lower exposure to that hormone. Higher levels of testosterone are linked with better capabilities in tasks related to spatial abilities, and lower levels are associated with greater skill at verbal memory, like remembering lists of words.
Pintzka found that the women who scored best on the mental rotation tasks had high levels of testosterone both prenatally and in their adult lives (when given the testosterone), while those who scored worst had low levels in both (given a placebo). This is significant because being exposed to higher levels of testosterone in utero is also correlated to developing diseases such as ADHD, Tourette’s and autism. Low levels of testosterone are more connected to disorders such as depression and anxiety.
More study is needed. But the results suggest that hormones we are exposed to in utero are as important as the ones we produce in adulthood. Let’s see… I predict you’re checking your fingers right now, but I didn’t need a crystal ball for that.