2nd to 4th digit ratio (2D:4D) and number of sex partners: evidence for effects of prenatal testosterone in men

Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2006 Jan;31(1):30-7. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2005.05.009. Epub 2005 Jul 6.


The number of sexual partners per individual (NSP) is an important component of sexual behaviour. Here, we report two studies concerning the relationship between a probable negative correlate of prenatal testosterone, the ratio of the length of 2nd and 4th digits (2D:4D), and NSP in men. The right hand 2D:4D ratio appears to be more strongly related to prenatal testosterone than does the left hand. Accordingly we found: (a) in a sample of 99 German heterosexual male undergraduates right hand 2D:4D (but not left hand 2D:4D) was significantly negatively associated with reported lifetime NSP. The relationship between NSP and 2D:4D was independent of free testosterone, but free testosterone also showed a weak positive association with NSP (b) in a sample of 79 heterosexual and 95 homosexual Austrian men we found a significant negative association between right hand 2D:4D (but not left hand 2D:4D) and reported NSP in past year for heterosexual but not for homosexual men. The association in heterosexuals was independent of age, years of education, occupation and relationship status. We conclude that male NSP is likely to be influenced by the long-term organisational effects of prenatal testosterone. The relationship between NSP and 2D:4D appears to be confined to heterosexual men.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Education
  • Fingers / anatomy & histology*
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Homosexuality, Male
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sexual Behavior / physiology*
  • Testosterone / blood*


  • Testosterone