You know what they say about big hands. But do you know what they – as in neuroscientists and psychologists – say about them? That hands reveal a lot about their owners' social, emotional and athletic lives – and these scientists have research to back up those conclusions.
What your hands say about you
What your hands say about you
1. Athletic Ability
Take a look at your fingers. Which is longer: your index finger or your ring finger? Researchers last year found that the ratio of the length of your index finger to the length of your ring finger – known as the "digit ratio" – is correlated to muscular strength in boys. That is, the longer the ring finger compared to the index finger, the stronger boys tend to be. An earlier study suggested that same ratio is linked to basketball ability in girls.
"There is some indirect evidence that this digit ratio of the length of the fingers is determined during early fetal development by testosterone – the more testosterone the fetus produces, the longer the ring finger, so the smaller the digit ratio," study lead author Grant Tomkinson said in a press release. "Testosterone is the natural steroid hormone that enhances sport, athletic and fitness test performance. In general, people with smaller digit ratios are better athletes.” More recently, Norwegian researchers found that high levels of prenatal testosterone – which creates the shorter index finger compared to the ring finger – tend to predict how well you'll be with spatial tasks, like finding the right container to fit tonight's leftovers, and directional tasks, like navigating your way as you drive.
A recent study questioned people’s attitudes relating to sexual promiscuity and faithfulness, and then measured the length of each person’s ring finger compared to the index finger. The findings point to a possible genetic inclination to either “stay” or “stray." Both men and women with long ring fingers reported needing less emotional involvement and favored short-term relationships with multiple partners compared to those with shorter ring fingers. Again, this may be linked to testosterone exposure in utero.
Researchers have found that having a stronger handgrip is linked to greater lung capacity, at least among the 1,773 healthy older Korean women they studied. Since handgrip strength is also a measure of overall muscle strength and general health, the researchers concluded that testing it in older adults could be a good way to test their potential for impaired lung health.
4. Marriage Potential
Men – but not women – with a stronger grip are more likely to be married than men with weaker grips, some research suggests. This finding hints that men who demonstrate strength and vigor are more attractive to potential long-term partners. That's sad news for dudes with poor grip strength, who are not only more likely to grow old alone, they're also more likely to actually need a caring partner in old age since they have a heightened risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality. On top of that, they're less likely to cope well with the lack of support into old age, since grip strength has also been linked to one's ability to cope independently.
In one study, participants saw pictures of a healthy food (such as Brussels sprouts) and an unhealthy food (such as a brownie) on a computer screen, and had to choose as quickly as possible which of the two foods would most help them meet their health and fitness goals. People who moved the cursor closer to the unhealthy treat – even if they eventually clicked on the healthy choice – showed less self-control in a later experiment than those who made a more direct path to the healthy snack with the cursor. "Our hand movements reveal the process of exercising self-control," Paul Stillman, the study's co-author, said in a press release. In other words, those devil and angel voices don't just play out in your head; they're in your hands, too.
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And while such studies don't demonstrate that hand characteristics cause certain personality traits, they do shed light on some interesting links. Here are some areas in which your hands might reveal something about you.