Bernhard Fink, Hanna Seydel, John Manning and Peter Kappeler

A preliminary investigation of the associations between digit ratio and women’s perception of men’s dance

Personality and Individual Differences

Recent research has revealed that variation in human dancing ability is related to levels of fluctuating asymmetry, and that women rate symmetrical male dancers more positively. We measured the lengths of the 2nd (index) and 4th (ring) finger in a sample of young men and recorded short digital video clips of their dance movements. A panel of 104 female judges rated 12 clips of men with the lowest and highest finger-length ratios (2D:4D) for attractiveness, dominance, and masculinity. We found that dances by men with low (masculinised) 2D:4D ratios were rated significantly higher on attractiveness, dominance, and masculinity than dancers with high (feminised) 2D:4D. There were no significant differences between the two groups of dancers for age and other physical measures such as waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) and body-mass-index (BMI). Since there is evidence that finger-length ratios negatively correlate with testosterone exposure in utero, male dancing abilities may be organized early during development. Moreover, women’s ability to perceive differences in dance movement of men with low and high 2D:4D may indicate that dance provides some cues to phenotypic condition, relevant for sexual selection.