Science News

Fingers and Traders

Mon, 19th Jan 2009

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The length of your fingers determines whether you've got the Midas touch...

Scientists have revealed this week that the relative lengths of a persons' fingers can predict money-making ability on the financial markets.  Cambridge University Judge Business School researcher John Coates and his colleagues, who also made headlines last year by showing that testosterone levels amongst city traders were linked to their daily profits, took photocopies of the palm-prints of 44 financiers.  The researchers measured the lengths of the index and ring fingers to find a strong association between the finger length and profit or loss.

HandTraders with an index finger shorter than the ring finger were more successful, on average, and the larger the ring finger relative to the index finger - known as the 2D:4D ratio - the more money they made.

"This is an index of testosterone exposure during development," points out Coates. "Some of the same genes that control limb and hand development in the embryo are also involved in the development of the urogenital system, so finger length is an index of pre-natal testosterone levels.  Testosterone therefore seems to pattern the body and behaviour later in life; we see the same relationship amongst sportsmen playing testosterone-charged sports."

In the present study the researchers looked at a specific group of traders who aim to profit by gambling on second-by-second and minute-by-minute fluctuations in the values of certain assets.

"These high frequency trades require the same testosterone-fuelled rapid reactions that benefit an athlete on the sportsfield," says Coates, "although not all financial roles benefit from high testosterone.  Some money-making schemes require traders to take a much longer-term view and high testosterone is unlikely to be of benefit under those circumstances." So the bottom line is, when making short-term bets on stocks and shares, measure your brokers' fingers; ideally before you threaten to break them!



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