The Corner

Finger Length & SAT Scores

(Via NLT ) exciting news about correlation. Also: when children of Yakuza do poorly on SATs I guess they have better reason than most to cut off their fingers.*

A quick look at the lengths of children’s index and ring fingers can be used to predict how well students will perform on SATs, new research claims.

Kids with longer ring fingers compared to index fingers are likely to have higher math scores than literacy or verbal scores on the college entrance exam, while children with the reverse finger-length ratio are likely to have higher reading and writing, or verbal, scores versus math scores.

Scientists have known that different levels of the hormones testosterone and estrogen in the womb account for the different finger lengths, which are a reflection of areas of the brain that are more highly developed than others, said psychologist Mark Brosnan of the University of Bath, who led the study.

Exposure to testosterone in the womb is said to promote development of areas of the brain often associated with spatial and mathematical skills, he said. That hormone makes the ring finger longer. Estrogen exposure does the same for areas of the brain associated with verbal ability and tends to lengthen the index finger relative to the ring finger.

To test the link to children’s scores on the College Board’s Scholastic Assessment Test (for which the name has changed a number of times in the past 100 years), Brosnan and his colleagues made photocopies of children’s palms and measured the length of their index and ring fingers using calipers accurate to 0.01 millimeters. They used the finger-length ratios as a proxy for the levels of testosterone and estrogen exposure.

* Wow, that was terrible.