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Sex differences in 2D:4D and aggression in children and adolescents from five regions of Russia


Correspondence to: Marina Butovskaya, Institute of ethnology and anthropology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, 119991, Leninsky pr. 32a, Russia. E-mail:


The aim of this study was to consider digit ratio (2D:4D: a putative marker of prenatal testosterone and estrogen levels) and aggression in a sample of 1,452 children and adolescents (mean age 13.6 years) from five regions of Russia. The 2D:4D was calculated from direct measurements of the fingers, and aggression scores were obtained from completed Buss and Perry (J Pers Soc Psychol 63 (1992) 452–459) aggression questionnaires. The 2D:4D demonstrated significant sexual dimorphism, with lower 2D:4D in boys in all regions. Physical aggression scores were highest in boys, but verbal aggression, anger and hostility were highest in girls. The highest right hand 2D:4D in boys was found in the most northerly population (Central Russia Region). Our data revealed small, but highly significant negative correlations between right 2D:4D, right–left 2D:4D (DR-L) and self-ratings on physical aggression in boys, but not in girls. These relationships remained after considering Russian ethnics only, and controlling for region. We suggest that the associations may be due to sex differences in prenatal androgen secretion. Am J Phys Anthropol 152:130–139, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.