Brief Communication | Published:

Finger-length ratios and sexual orientation

Measuring people's finger patterns may reveal some surprising information.

Abstract

Animal models have indicated that androgenic steroids acting before birth might influence the sexual orientation of adult humans. Here we examine the androgen-sensitive pattern of finger lengths1, and find evidence that homosexual women are exposed to more prenatal androgen than heterosexual women are; also, men with more than one older brother, who are more likely than first-born males to be homosexual in adulthood2, are exposed to more prenatal androgen than eldest sons. Prenatal androgens may therefore influence adult human sexual orientation in both sexes, and a mother's body appears to ‘remember’ previously carried sons, altering the fetal development of subsequent sons and increasing the likelihood of homosexuality in adulthood.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. 1

    Manning, J. T., Scutt, D., Wilson, J. & Lewis-Jones, D. I. Hum. Reprod. 13, 3000–3004 ( 1998).

  2. 2

    Blanchard, R. Annu. Rev. Sex Res. 8, 27–67 (1997).

  3. 3

    Breedlove, S. M., Cooke, B. M. & Jordan, C. L. Brain Behav. Evol. 54, 8– 14 (1999).

  4. 4

    Manning, J. T., Trivers, R .L., Singh, D. & Thornhill, R. Nature 399, 214–215 ( 1999).

  5. 5

    McFadden, D. & Pasanen, E. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 95, 2709–2713 (1998).

  6. 6

    James, W. H. Hum. Biol. 59, 721–752 ( 1987).

  7. 7

    Bogaert, A. F. Behav. Neurosci. 111, 1395–1397 (1997).

  8. 8

    Bailey, J. M. & Pillard, R. C. Arch. Gen. Psychiatry 48, 1089–1096 (1991).

  9. 9

    Hamer, D. D., Hu, S., Magnuson, V. L., Hu, N. & Pattatucci, A. M. L. Science 261, 321– 327 (1993).

  10. 10

    Gorman, M. R. Persp. Biol. Med. 38, 61–81 (1994).

  11. 11

    Brodie, H. K. H. et al. Am. J. Psychiatry 131, 82– 83 (1974).

  12. 12

    Mayer-Bahlburg, H. F. L. Progr. Brain Res. 61, 375–398 (1984).

  13. 13

    Bogaert, A. F. & Hershberger, S. Arch. Sexual Behav. 28, 213–221 ( 1999).

  14. 14

    McFadden, D. & Champlin, C. A. J. Ass. Res. Otolaryngol. (in the press).

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to S. Marc Breedlove.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Further reading

Figure 1: Finger-length patterns vary with gender, sexual orientation and birth order.

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.