The human body is increasingly recognized as a biometric source of information for a wide spectrum of issues, including security, psychopathology, personality and health. Earlier we reported that job interviews might be replaced by brain scans within five years and denoted this news as a modern technological incarnation of occult palm reading. Now it turns out that palm reading itself has found a new incarnation – it’s in the ratio of your fingers.

John T. Manning, emeritus professor in psychology of the University of Central Lancashire and the University of Liverpool, has developed a new theory about how finger length relates to human biology and behavior. In the BBC series ‘Secret of The Sexes’, Manning successfully uses finger length ratio as a predictor for athletic ability.

A significant part of theory is focused on the so-called: ’digit ratio’, which concerns the full length ratio of only two fingers: index finger (2D) vs. ring finger (4D). In women the length of both fingers is usually about equal (2D:4D digit ratio = 1.00), while in men the ring finger is usually slightly longer (digit ratio = 0.98): a tiny sex difference.


The researchers on brain scans showed they can predict tendencies towards autism, which is thought to be related to ‘hypermasculinity’ of the brains. The same is true for the ’digit ratio’: multiple international studies have revealed that people with autism usually have typical male-like finger length ratios (2D:4D < 0.94).


Maybe less surprising, professor Manning found the typical male-like low digit ratio relates to athletic ability as well. In the BBC series ‘Secret of The Sexes’, Manning explains the link between finger length & athletic ability as follows:

“Our fingers have information about how much testosterone and how much estrogens we’ve been exposed to in the womb. So, the longer one’s ring finger relative to one’s index finger, the more testosterone you’ve had. And that testosterone has an effect on the brain, and on the body. If a boy has a large amount of testosterone before birth, he is likely to be born with a very efficient heart and vascular system.”

“So the longer one’s ring finger relative to one’s index finger, the faster one can run.”

The BBC’s “Secret of The Sexes” confronted the ‘finger Professor’ with six athletes – all 5000 meter specialists, and asked him to “predict” the outcome of the race based on finger length only. Actually, the BBC provided Manning photocopies of the athletes hands, and in return Professor Manning risked his reputation by providing the results of a race that had yet to be run.

The outcome of the experiment is unveiled “LIVE” in the video. And surprisingly… the theory appeared to be pretty accurate in practice. After Manning & the athletes are confronted with the results Manning summarizes:

“… We’ve got four out of six right, but the two that are wrong were kind a quite close.”

The winner of the 5000 meter race responds: “I thought… that finger thing is bullocks because there are so many variables… I am very impressed”.

Manning’s theory was also confirmed by the results of various studies e.g. on endurance running & sprinting speed. And in another likewise experiment finger length correctly predicted the outcome of a 100 meters race with 5 young sprinters.


In his second book – titled ‘The Finger Book‘ – Professor Manning explains that because of the prenatal link with the androgens (testosterone & estrogen), finger length studies have generally shown consequent sensible correlations with a rainbow of life issue.

The tiny sex difference appears to be highly revealing, for hundreds of studies the ’2D:4D digit ratio’ appears to correlate with a wide range of topics that are usually also known for a typical male-female difference, including: musical ability, personality, health, and even sexual preference.

Via Finger length & digit ratio news. Image: Jamaican world record holder 100 meter sprint Usain Bolt (In general Jamaicans are know for having a low digit ratio, which nicely coincides with their reputation as the world fastest athletes).

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  • Hi The same study shows Jamaican and German women appear to have more testosterone than men from many countries. If this is true it is very odd. Is that really the case or are there other factors? thanks

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  • My ring finger is longer than my index finger. I'm a fast runner, have an athlectic body and I'm bisexual.

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  • Hi Nydra, thanks for sharing that! :-)

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  • I'm a female born following 2 male pregnancies and have the characteristics of longer ring finger and math skills. Also very athletic in my youth although females not allowed to compete in 1950's. I am however very heterosexual. When using tweets where sex is unknown, most assume by my opinions that I am male.

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  • Additionally, Manning has also presented a few studies which indicate that there is a likewise line between the 2D:4D finger length ratio and ... FOOTBALL ABILITY! Interestingly, contrarary to running (where the link was especially noticable for the RIGHT hand), the correlation was most noticable for the LEFT hand (this might be understood in the perspective of right brain vs. left brain differences: left hand is connected to the right brain which has been associated with e.g. visuo-spatial skills) Sources: - -

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  • Hello partikc, Regarding your question about the knowlegde of the athletes about their finger ration: Professor Manning was confronted with photocopies of the athletes' hands, after the BBC had taken the photocopies from the athletes. This implicates that the athletes were not aware of the results of Manning's measurements before the end of the race. I understand the scepsis behind your question, but you should not underestimate that this experiment was designed and performed by scienitific oriented journalists. Very unlikely that the result of the experiment was 'sabbotaged' by the athletes who probably hardly knew anything about the topic 'digit ratio'. And don't forget: the BBC's "Secrets of the sexes" is really a very impressive and credible document. Sorry, your last words prevent me from posting a more detailed response regarding your self observations... Maybe you should simply try to measuring again the digit ratio for both of your hands. If you can confirm your initial results ... then I will try to respond! PS. The following picture describes how to measure your 2D:4D digit ratio: NOTICE: Measurement is really necessary, for one can NOT "read" the 2D:4D digit ratio by taking a look at the hands - our brains are usually not capable to make a reliable assessment through observation only.

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  • umm... my ring finger is about 1,5 mm smaller than my index finger. I'm a dude. I grow beard really fast, and i built muscles quite fast also. I'm not gay. I also always was the fastest in running contests at high school. If the athletes knew each other's finger ratio before the race, i'm calling self fulfilling prophecy on this. Then again, maybe i fucked up while measuring.

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  • An additional interesting aspect of the 'running speed' studies is that the correlation with the 2D:4D finger length ratio is found especially for the RIGHT HAND. (This has been found in a sample of 74 sprinters, 71 middle distance runners, and 57 long distance runners) Source: 'The finger Book' (2008) - John T. Manning.

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