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Digit ratios (2D:4D) as predictors of risky decision making for both sexes

Ellen Garbarino, Robert Slonim and Justin Sydnor
Journal of Risk and Uncertainty
Vol. 42, No. 1 (February 2011), pp. 1-26
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23884160
Page Count: 26
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Digit ratios (2D:4D) as predictors of risky decision making for both sexes
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Abstract

Many important decisions involve financial risk, and substantial evidence suggests that women tend to be more risk averse than men. We explore a potential biological basis of risk-taking variation within and between the sexes by studying how the ratio between the length of the second and fourth fingers (2D:4D) predicts risk-taking. A smaller 2D:4D ratio has been linked to higher exposure to prenatal testosterone relative to estradiol, with men having lower ratios than women. In financially motivated decision-making tasks, we find that men and women with smaller 2D:4D ratios chose significantly riskier options. We further find that the ratio partially explains the variation in risk-taking between the sexes. Moreover, for men and women at the extremes of the digit-ratio distribution the difference in risk-taking disappears. Thus, the 2D:4D ratio partially explains variation in financial risk-taking behavior within and between sexes and offers evidence of a biological basis for risk-taking behavior.

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