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PLoS One. 2012;7(10):e46319. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0046319. Epub 2012 Oct 8.

2D:4D asymmetry and gender differences in academic performance.

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  • 1Department of Economics, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, USA. and the Laboratory for Institutional Analysis of Economic Reforms, National Research University “Higher School of Economics”, Moscow, Russia. jnye@gmu.edu

Erratum in

  • PLoS One. 2013;8(3). doi:10.1371/annotation/8e05e33b-58cf-4983-b021-3a65d27ef2a1.

Abstract

Exposure to prenatal androgens affects both future behavior and life choices. However, there is still relatively limited evidence on its effects on academic performance. Moreover, the predicted effect of exposure to prenatal testosterone (T)-which is inversely correlated with the relative length of the second to fourth finger lengths (2D:4D)-would seem to have ambiguous effects on academic achievement since traits like aggressiveness or risk-taking are not uniformly positive for success in school. We provide the first evidence of a non-linear, quadratic, relationship between 2D:4D and academic achievement using samples from Moscow and Manila. We also find that there is a gender differentiated link between various measures of academic achievement and measured digit ratios. These effects are different depending on the field of study, choice of achievement measure, and use of the right hand or left digit ratios. The results seem to be asymmetric between Moscow and Manila where the right (left) hand generates inverted-U (U-shaped) curves in Moscow while the pattern for hands reverses in Manila. Drawing from unusually large and detailed samples of university students in two countries not studied in the digit literature, our work is the first to have a large cross country comparison that includes two groups with very different ethnic compositions.

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