I can’t pass this up, it’s too weird and thankfully that article is short, so I’ll write this post accordingly.
This came up on 15 May 2011 when I got an email alert from Sciencedirect of an in press article (as of this writing) digital ratio and media preference. I rarely encountered digit ratio research, I once saw a poster presentation at the CPA convention in 2009. Haeng Ryang Huh (Sejong University) has this brilliant idea of checking it out and published it in Personality and Individual Differences.
Digit ratios (2D:4D) contain information concerning an individual’s propensity towards aggression. Our study adds the first clue to better understanding the relationship between 2D:4D and exposure to aggressive contents in entertainment products. Our findings suggest that individuals with low 2D:4D prefer aggressive contents such as action films, sports telecast, killing and achieving games, hip-hop music, and erotic video clips rather than do individuals with high 2D:4D. Also individuals with low 2D:4D tend to demonstrate less preference for romance films than individuals with high 2D:4D. In addition, we found that low 2D:4D was associated with a preference for sports instead of other genres of entertainment products. Therefore, 2D:4D (a putative correlate of prenatal sex steroids) helps us to better understand the rationale of individuals’ preferences for media violence.
I think the ratio of your index and ring finger having to do with various aspect of your life seemed weird, but its Wikipedia article has some citations that this is a handy avenue of study. So I’m writing this post as I read the article.
Since I have Wikipedia-level knowledge of this topic, I’ll just summarize the study’s literature review. The ratio between the index and ring finger, called the 2D:4D ratio, is related to prenatal hormone levels, specifically to testosterone. This 2D:4D ratio is linked to risk-taking behaviors, aggressive behaviors, personality, and sexual interests, albeit among men and not women. Since testosterone and aggression are very related, it seems like a logical step to check the 2D:4D ratio. Now in media violence research, I know that aggressive personality is a positive correlation for a preference for violent media and hence violent videogames.
So, Huh hypothesized that individuals with lower digit 2D:4D ratio are more likely to prefer violent media than those with higher digit 2D:4D ratio. So using your right hand, if your ring finger is longer than your index finger, then it points towards a lower ratio and vice versa.
Participants: 209 Korean High School students, 21 students failed to complete the study resulting in a final sample of 188. Participants are all males, average age is 17.
Participants are asked how much they like the types of media. The following measures are answered on a 7-point ‘like/dislike’ scale.
TV preferences: action films (e.g. physical stunts, extended physical fights, etc. Like Die Hard) and romance films.
Sports: Soccer and baseball. Selected based on physical contact between players.
Videogames: based on Bartle’s player types: Killing-oriented, Achievement-oriented, Exploration-Oriented, and Socially-oriented. Uh-oh… I might rip it apart and ask for a genre categorization measure. Or maybe follow a similar format as television. Or more simply what videogames they are playing in the past month.
Music: hip-hop or ballads because they differ in degrees of aggressive content.
Video clips: you like erotic or educational video clips?
2D:4D ratio: they measured the ratio on the participants’ right hand according to the literature. They scanned the hand and used Photoshop to measure the fingers’ length. Oh, I am so going to try that out with my grad colleagues.
First correlational result looked at the general categories with 2D:4D ratio, a single significant negative correlation was found for sports. It seems that low 2D:4D ratio male participant like sports.
Second correlational results looked at the specific categories with 2D:4D ratio and Huh got some significant results that I’ll post the table.
So, we have significant correlations that male teenage Koreans with low 2D:4D ratio showing preferences for action films, sports, killing-oriented and achievement-oriented videogames, hip-hop and likes erotic video clips. Male teenage Koreans with high 2D:4D ratio showed a liking for romance films. Okay, we now have some rough evidence that a measure like 2D:4D ratio can tell us about our personality and our media preferences, although no effect size posted in the article, we got something alright.
My issues with Huh’s study is the use Bartle’s taxonomy of player types. It is not what I normally would use as it somewhat an imprecise instrument and a more elegant measure, like asking what games they liked, would reveal some more information. Nevertheless, this does not invalidate the study, just bear in mind that measures Huh uses can be interpreted in many ways. So, I’ll repeat that this study gives very rough evidence that low 2D:4D ratio is correlated with violent media preferences and we’ll need to polish these results with more elegant tools.
Huh cautioned about the connection between 2D:4D ratio and sports. It might be that they are simply better at sports and liked sports rather than a link with aggression.
So, here’s what I would like to suggest to myself and you, the reader. Take out a ruler, measure your fingers and crosscheck the ratio with your favourite videogames and movies and post your results in the comments.
Huh, H. R. (in press). Digit ratios and preferences for aggressive content in entertainment. Personality and Individual Differences. Advance online publication. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2011.04.012