While more men than women opt for high-risk finance careers, a recent study from the University of Chicago and Northwestern University has found that this could be down to testosterone rather than social conditioning, anti-social hours, old boys’ networks or anything else.
One of the measures of the hormone used was the difference in length between participants’ ring finger and their index finger.
Paola Sapienza of Kellogg School of Management, Luigi Zingales and Robert McCormick at Chicago’s Booth School of Business and Dario Maestripieri, a professor in Comparative Human Development, asked 500 Booth MBA students to choose 15 times between a high-risk, high-return outcome and a steady return.
They found that men and women with similar levels of testosterone have the same level of financial risk aversion.
The link between risk aversion and testosterone also predicted career choices after graduation, with students who were high in testosterone choosing riskier careers in finance.
Although it’s known as the male hormone, some women have been shown to have more testosterone than the average male.
As one indicator of testosterone, the authors looked at the ratio of the length of the ring finger to the index finger. The longer your ring finger, the more of the hormone you were exposed to in the womb.
The average woman’s ring finger is shorter than her index finger, while the opposite is true for men. If, as a female, you have a longer ring than index finger you can be pretty sure that risk-taking lies in your nature.
Does this mean you can read your financial future in your hands? Not necessarily. The level of testosterone in participants’ saliva was found to have a much stronger correlation with risk-loving behavior than the finger ratio, so your current level of the hormone has more influence than your exposure to testosterone as your brain was developing.
But it’s still worth checking the ring fingers of your competitors, so you know how much gambling and drinking to expect.