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

and the department of physiology, development and neuroscience at the University of Cambridge in England.

To explore the notion, Coates and his colleagues analyzed 20 months of profit-and-loss records involving 44 male traders who worked on the London trading floor. When the study began, the floor was home to about 200 traders, of whom just three were women.

All the participants were specialized in what's known as "high-frequency trading." In contrast to slower-moving, research-based trading -- the type that occurs with mutual, pension and hedge fund management, for instance -- the authors noted that high-frequency trading involves the lightning-fast buying and selling of securities at values as high as 1 billion British pounds (about $1.49 billion).

Coates and his team observed that this particular form of financial wheeling and dealing is very physically demanding. Rapid-fire trading executions, they said, require extreme concentration, visual vigilance, strong motor-eye coordination and quick reaction time, alongside extreme confidence and a willingness to engage in substantial risk-taking.

Prior research, they added, suggests that these specific qualities are exactly the ones that seem to be particularly enhanced among those exposed to relatively high amounts of testosterone while in the womb because the brains of such individuals go on to develop a greater-than-average sensitivity to the effects of routine circulating testosterone.

The team noted that a reliable marker for high prenatal testosterone exposure is having a fourth finger (ring finger) that is longer than the second finger (index finger), a ratio previously used to predict improved performance in a range of competitive sports. The authors then used this finger size indicator -- known as 2D:4D -- to stack up each trader's financial success with his testosterone exposure while in the womb.

After accounting for both trader age and years of job
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