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In High-Stakes Stock Trading, Finger Length Matters
Date:1/12/2009

Study finds testosterone exposure in womb creates long ring finger, financial success,,,,

MONDAY, Jan. 12 (HealthDay News) -- For all those whose ring finger far outstretches their index finger, British researchers have pinpointed the perfect job: high-volume stock trader.

According to a new study, having a relatively long ring finger augurs well for success in those high-stress financial arenas where fast thinking, good reflexes and good old-fashioned guts matter most. A lengthy fourth digit, the authors note, indicates greater exposure to testosterone in the womb, which in turn gives what they call "high-frequency" traders a biological leg up by encouraging the development of the right mix of mental attitude and physical skills for making money in a cutthroat business.

The finding is reported in this week's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"I used to run a trading desk on Wall Street," explained study author John M. Coates. "During that time I had noticed -- during the dot-com bubble -- that the traders were displaying almost clinical symptoms of mania. They were delusional, euphoric, had a diminished need for sleep, and displayed feelings of overconfidence. You couldn't get them to shut up or put a normal sentence together. And I began to think that something physiological was going on."

Coates hypothesized that the chemical driving trading behavior was one of the human steroids, which he described as "massively powerful" in their ability to affect mood, memory and cognition. He zeroed in specifically on testosterone because the relatively few female traders on the floor did not display the same manic behavior as the men.

"So I left Wall Street, in large part to look into the hypothesis that testosterone was driving trader behavior during the bull market," said Coates, who went on to conduct his work as a research fellow with both the Judge Business School
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