Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 38, Issue 3, pp 442–455 | Cite as

Anxiety, Sex-Linked Behaviors, and Digit Ratios (2D:4D)

  • Milagros Evardone
  • Gerianne M. Alexander
Original Paper


The second to fourth (2D:4D) digit ratio, a sexually dimorphic, phenotypic characteristic putatively associated with perinatal androgen action, has been used to evaluate the hypothesized relation between prenatal hormonal factors and a variety of sexually dimorphic behaviors, including sex-linked psychopathology. Smaller digit ratios, suggestive of stronger perinatal androgen action, have been associated with male-linked disorders (e.g., autism), and larger digit ratios, suggestive of weaker perinatal androgen action, have been associated with female-linked disorders (e.g., depression and eating disorders). To evaluate the possible relation between digit ratio and another traditionally female-linked disorder, anxiety, 2D:4D ratios were measured in a non-clinical sample (58 men, 52 women). Participants also completed a battery of anxiety and gender role measures and performed two spatial/cognitive tasks typically showing a male advantage (mental rotation and targeting) and two tasks typically showing a female advantage (location memory and spatial working memory). Men with a more feminine pattern of sex-linked traits and behaviors (including digit ratios) reported greater anxiety. In contrast, greater anxiety in women was associated with both female-typical and male-typical traits and behaviors, but and no significant association between digit ratio and anxiety was found. This pattern of results suggests that the development of anxiety is multiply determined, with contributing factors varying by sex.


Anxiety Sex-linked behavior 2D:4D ratio Gonadal hormones 



This research was supported in part by the National Institute of Mental Health grant MH071414 (GMA). The authors thank Cecil Reynolds, Ph.D. and Leslie C. Morey, Ph.D. for their input on earlier versions of this manuscript and the various graduate and undergraduate assistants who collaborated in data collection for this project: Julia Makkaoui, Liz Wiley, Chris Strachan, Travis Smith, Ebun Akindile, and Troy Song.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyTexas A & M University, 4235 TAMUCollege StationUSA

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