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How handsome are you? Look at your hands

April 25, 2011
Courtesy of the Royal Society
and World Science staff

Looks like the word hand­some may be more apt than you think. New re­search sug­gests men whose right ring fin­ger is sig­nif­i­cantly long­er than the in­dex fin­ger are con­sist­ently rated as better-look­ing by fe­ma­les.

The ex­pe­ri­ments, con­ducted at the Un­ivers­ity of Liv­er­pool and Un­ivers­ity of Stir­ling in the U.K., are pub­lished in the April 20 on­line is­sue of the jour­nal Pro­ceed­ings of the Roy­al So­ci­e­ty B.

Past re­search sug­gests the rel­a­tive lengths of these fin­gers are in­flu­enced by lev­els of tes­tos­ter­one to which a fe­tus is ex­posed early in life, sci­en­tists not­ed. This hor­mone ex­po­sure is sur­mised to al­so bear on male fa­cial at­trac­tive­ness.

“Phys­i­cal fea­tures closely linked to foe­tal lev­els of tes­tos­ter­one, such as face shape, are more likely to be cor­re­lat­ed with second-to-fourth dig­it ra­ti­os than traits be­lieved to be di­rectly con­trolled by cir­cu­lat­ing tes­tos­ter­one lat­er in life his­to­ry (voice and body odour),” the au­thors wrote. Con­sist­ent with these ideas, fin­ger length was­n’t found in the new re­search to be as­so­ci­at­ed with at­trac­tive­ness of voice or body odor, al­though pre­vi­ous work has shown that wom­en pre­fer deeper voiced men with a cer­tain some­thing in their nat­u­ral aro­ma.

The re­search builds on ear­li­er work that points to­wards a cor­rela­t­ion be­tween the rel­a­tive lengths of male ring and in­dex fin­gers and var­i­ous tes­tos­ter­one-related char­ac­ter­is­tics that seem to make a man more at­trac­tive to the op­po­site sex.

In the new stud­ies, sci­en­tists ob­tained pic­tures of faces with a neu­tral ex­pres­sion, record­ings of voices pro­nounc­ing vow­els, and odor sam­ples cap­tured on cot­ton pads from 49 men. A to­tal of 84 wom­en were asked to rate the stim­u­li for at­trac­tive­ness.


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New research suggests men whose right ring finger is significantly longer than the index finger are consistently more handsome to females. The experiments, conducted at the University of Liverpool and University of Stirling in the U.K., are published in the April 20 online issue of the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Past research suggests the relative lengths of these fingers are influenced by levels of testosterone to which a fetus is exposed early in life, scientists noted. This hormone exposure is surmised to also influence male facial attractiveness. “Physical features closely linked to foetal levels of testosterone, such as face shape, are more likely to be correlated with second-to-fourth digit ratios than traits believed to be directly controlled by circulating testosterone later in life history (voice and body odour),” the authors wrote. Consistent with these ideas, finger length wasn’t found in the new research to be associated with attractiveness of voice or body odor, although previous work has shown that women prefer deeper voiced men with a certain something in their natural aroma. The research builds on earlier work that points towards a correlation between the relative lengths of male ring and index fingers and various testosterone-related characteristics that seem to make a man more attractive to the opposite sex. In the new studies, scientists obtained pictures of faces with a neutral expression, recordings of voices pronouncing vowels, and odor samples captured on cotton pads from 49 men. A total of 84 women were asked to rate the stimuli for attractiveness.