Digit ratio (2D:4D) and sprinting speed in boys



Digit ratio (2D:4D), a putative correlate of prenatal testosterone, has been found to relate to performance in sport and athletics such that low 2D:4D (high prenatal testosterone) correlates with high performance. Speed in endurance races is strongly related to 2D:4D, and may be one factor that underlies the link between sport and 2D:4D, but nothing is known of the relationship between 2D:4D and sprinting speed. Here we show that running times over 50 m were positively correlated with 2D:4D in a sample of 241 boys (i.e. runners with low 2D:4D ran faster than runners with high 2D:4D). The relationship was also found for 50 m split times (at 20, 30, and 40 m) and was independent of age, BMI, and an index of maturity. However, associations between 2D:4D and sprinting speed were much weaker than those reported for endurance running. This suggests that 2D:4D is a relatively weak predictor of strength and a stronger predictor of efficiency in aerobic exercise. We discuss the effect sizes for relationships between 2D:4D and sport and target traits in general, and identify areas of strength and weakness in digit ratio research. Am. J. Hum. Biol. 2009. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.