So Strange I Actually Believe It

New research has demonstrated a link between the ratio of the length of the index finger to the ring finger to relative scores on the math and reading SAT. The relative length of these two fingers is apparently related to testosterone and estrogen levels in utero.

While this research focuses on comparisons between the sexes, a logical extrapolation would be that the same sort of forces might hold across gender as well. People don’t like to talk about gender differences these days, but if you have young kids, it is hard not to see them. We tried to raise my son to be a little girly man. It worked for two and a half years. His favorite thing to do was to dress up in ballerina outfits with his sister and put on makeup. Then one day I made the mistake of turning on Power Rangers. He was instantaneously transformed into a battle-loving, sword-toting warrior and has never once looked back.


egretman

People don't like to talk about gender differences these days, but if you have young kids, it is hard not to see them.

You have only proved the continuing lure of spandex wearing superheroes. I question the rest of your thesis.

jeremymiles

There was a paper, written by Marvin Zuckerman and published in Behavioral and Brain Sciences (1987) - the title says it all: "All parents are environmentalists until they have their second child".

bsci

Actually the study was already done:
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v404/n6777/abs/404455a0.html
Nature v404 p455 (2000)

The finger ratio is a marker for sexual orientation with homosexual women being closer to hetersexual men. There are other studies on this topic, but I figured this was a good one for a link.

frankenduf

so Jerry Falwell was right (although it was omitted from his freakonomics obit 5/16)- that purple tellytub may have sped up aberrant sexual preference?!

furiousball

This is one of those practical jokes like the "if your hand is bigger than your face, you're going to get cancer" one isn't it? Either way, I'm going to tell someone this next time I'm at a bar and smack the crap out of them.

jaltucher

I wonder if its a spurious correlation. Like if you measure every part of your body and throw out various stats (SAT scores, golf handicaps, number od daily TV hours, etc), at least one correlation like this will seem, "Amazing!"

oddTodd

You know, this hormones-in-the-womb thing explains Borat's cousin's fascinating finding as well: "Engineers have more sons, nurses have more daughters".

fudouri

I am not a statistics major in any way, but this study was based on 75 kids. It seems to me that isn't enough data to judge the human race by.

http://statsfromfred.wordpress.com/2007/05/24/ring-finger-decides-if-you-are-good-at-the-sats/

mikey

Perhaps I read the article too quickly but I THOUGHT all it suggested was that if your ring finger is longer than your index finger then YOUR math score would be more likely to be higher than YOUR reading score. I don't think it mentioned anything about relative scores between people. But then again my ring finger is longer than my index finger so I probably didn't read it very well ;-)

bluefelix

Hm... I'm a woman, and my ring finger is longer than my index finger. I'm terrible at math, and I have a master's degree in english. I also scored much higher on the GRE in Verbal Reasoning than in Quantitative Reasoning. I did really well on the the Analytical Writing section too.

So much for finger size. ;)

Mango

Did Steve Levitt learn nothing from what happened to Larry Summers?

pkimelma

The whole thing about gender stereotyping and actual kids behavior is the Elephant in the living room. I know a lot of Feminists who have had to admit (after having boys) that despite their best efforts, their boys gravitated to guns and swords, even if kept separated from other kids.
It is silly to assume that we are wired exactly the same except for apparent physiology; if nothing else, the effects of certain hormones during early development have to have some effects. Maybe it will get easier for everyone to accept this as they come to accept the trans-gender argument.

Kent

Similar to this post, another weird statistical pattern I believe in is that people who own cats are way smarter than everyone else on average.

jcl

Oh, I did this test the other day at the GSB. They even sent me a follow up survey. No results yet on what I'm predicted to be.

Rachael

I salute your efforts to raise your son as a girly man. I think it's a healthier way to be. :D

jyb

I think it's been fairly conclusively shown that peers are vastly more influential than parents. I think any parent can tell you that's true.

Mango

Anyone who thinks there aren't hard-wired behavioral differences between the sexes has never watched a room full of 10-month-olds playing.

kdmick

Hmmm...
A rather silly study seems to spark yet another Nature Vs. Nurture debate.
I would like to foward the epicultural school of thought on this one, which highlights the interwoven aspects of genetics and environment. This much seems obvious.
For some reason this makes me think of the experiment in which teachers were told that students with blue eyes had higher I.Q.s than students with brown eyes. Almost immediately, students with blue eyes began improving on coursework and making higher grades. I am very skeptical about physical manifestations of mental capacity, and this study seems quite inconclusive at best.

bluefelix

I'm the woman in post 10 with the master's in english and the long ring finger. I remembered after I posted yesterday that I failed the 1st grade years ago because I couldn't read. I was, however, pretty good at math then (I know because I recently looked at the old report cards stuffed in my mom's attic). Funny. Why am I so bad at math now but good enough with english to earn a master's degree?

When my parents learned that I couldn't read on my grade level they loaded me up with books and helped me learn how to read. Maybe my parents and teachers pushed reading to the point where I spent a lot more time reading rather than going over math problems? My grades in math certainly did suffer as the years went on. By college I failed algebra twice and had to hire a weekly tutor just to get through it.

Interesting.

see

Eh. My SAT verbal and SAT math scores were both in the 99.something percentile, but the verbal score was definitely higher -- despite my ring finger being unquestionably longer than my index finger.