Original Paper

Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp 377-384

First online:

2D:4D and Sexually Dimorphic Facial Characteristics

  • Robert P. BurrissAffiliated withSchool of Biological Sciences, The University of Liverpool Email author 
  • , Anthony C. LittleAffiliated withSchool of Biological Sciences, The University of LiverpoolDepartment of Psychology, Stirling University
  • , Emma C. NelsonAffiliated withSchool of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology, The University of Liverpool, Hartley Building

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


The second-to-fourth-digit ratio (2D:4D) may be related to prenatal testosterone and estrogen levels and pubertal face growth. Several studies have recently provided evidence that 2D:4D is associated with other-rated facial masculinity and dominance, but not with facialmetric measures of masculinity. We found that localized face shape differences, shown here to be sexually dimorphic and related to ratings of dominance, were associated with direct and indirect measurements of 2D:4D. In this study we examined various localized features of the face, showing nose width, jaw angle, and lip height to be sexually dimorphic. We then had faces rated for dominance and saw that the most dimorphic characteristics were those most associated with rated dominance, with typically masculine characteristics tending to be associated with high ratings of dominance. Finally, 2D:4D measurements were made using three different techniques. High (feminine) values of 2D:4D were associated with feminine facial characteristics in women, but not in men. It was concluded that certain aspects of facial development are governed by factors that are established prenatally. These aspects may be associated with perceptions of the self by others that are important in the social environment, particularly in terms of intra-sexual competition and mate acquisition.


2D:4D Digit ratio Dominance Face Masculinity Sexually dimorphic