Digit ratios (2D:4D) determined by computer-assisted analysis are more reliable than those using physical measurements, photocopies, and printed scans

Authors

  • Heather C. Allaway,

    1. Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada S7N 0W8
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  • Terri G. Bloski,

    1. Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada S7N 0W8
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  • Roger A. Pierson,

    1. Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada S7N 0W8
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  • Marla E. Lujan

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada S7N 0W8
    • Obstetrics, Department of Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, Royal University Hospital, 103 Hospital Drive, Room 4519, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada S7N 0W8
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Abstract

Prenatal androgens influence the second to fourth digit ratio (2D:4D) of hands with men having lower ratios than women. Numerous methods are used to assess 2D:4D including, physical measurements with calipers, and measurements made from photocopies, scanned images, digital photographs, radiographs, and scaled tubes. Although each method appears relatively reliable, agreement upon a gold standard is necessary to better explore the putative effects of prenatal androgens. Our objective was to assess the level of intra and interobserver reliability when evaluating 2D:4D using four techniques: (1) physical measurements, (2) photocopies, (3) printed scanned images, and (4) computer-assisted image analysis. Physical measurements, photocopies, and printed scanned images were measured with Vernier calipers. Scanned images were also measured with computer-based calipers. Measurements were made in 30 men and 30 women at two different time points, by three experienced observers. Intraclass correlation coefficients were used to assess the level of reliability. Intraobserver reliability was best for computer-assisted (0.957), followed by photocopies (0.939), physical measurements (0.925), and printed scans (0.842; P = 0.015). Interobserver reliability was also greatest for computer-assisted (0.892), followed by photocopies (0.858), physical measurements (0.795), and printed scans (0.761; P = 0.001). Mean 2D:4D from physical measurements were higher than all other techniques (P < 0.0001). Digit ratios determined from computer-assisted, physical measurements, and printed scans were more reliable in men than women (P = 0.009, P = 0.017, and P = 0.012, respectively). In summary, 2D:4D determined from computer-assisted analysis yielded the most accurate and consistent measurements among observers. Investigations of 2D:4D should use computer-assisted measurements over alternate methods whenever possible. Am. J. Hum. Biol., 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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