Sports Studies


Athletic prowess in both males and females is negatively correlated with the ratio between the lengths of the second and fourth fingers (2D:4D), a correlate of prenatal testosterone exposure. Because multiple lines of evidence suggest that prenatal testosterone exposure is associated with sports interest, motivation, and athletic performance we measured the digit ratios of 77 non-athletes, 103 varsity athletes, and 78 club sport athletes to test 8 hypotheses about the relationship between digit ratio and the athletic behavior of collegeage women in the USA. Using independent samples t-tests, we found no significant differences between the digit ratios of women that (1) were athletes and non-athletes, (2) were varsity or club sport athletes, (3) had played or were currently playing individual or team sports, (4) played contact and non-contact sports, (5) played sports involving a ball and those that do not, (6) played sports where the outcome was determined by a score or the outcome of direct physical competition or subjectively by judges, or (7) were starters or reserves on their teams. However, women that played overhand throwing sports softball and water polo had significantly smaller digit ratios than did women that played other sports. These differences were not due to scaling effects. The independent samples t-test results were supported by subsequent Monte Carlo bootstrap, Bayesian, Random Forest, and multiple linear regression analyses. We suggest that the organizational consequences of prenatal testosterone exposure may influence the anatomy and physiology of women that leads to success playing overhand throwing sports.

Original Citation

Lombardo, M. P., Otieno, S., & Heiss, A. (2018). College-aged women in the United States that play overhand throwing sports have masculine digit ratios, 23. PLoS ONE 13(9): e0203685. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0203685