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Testing the Prenatal Androgen Hypothesis: Measuring Digit Ratios, Sexual Orientation, and Spatial Abilities in Adults

By Sari M. van Anders and Elizabeth Hampson


The present study examined whether the following variables putatively associated with prenatal androgens are inter-related in women: spatial abilities, sexual orientation, and 2nd to 4th finger (digit) length ratio (2D:4D). Participants were 99 healthy premenopausal women tested in the menstrual phase of the ovarian cycle between 0800 and 0930 hr. Women completed the Kinsey scales of sexual orientation, and were either strictly heterosexual (HS; N = 79) or not-strictly heterosexual (NHS; N = 20). Photocopies of the two hands were collected, and participants completed the revised Vandenberg Mental Rotations test, the Paper Folding test, and a short version of the Guilford-Zimmerman Spatial Orientation Test. Results showed that NHS women exhibited superior spatial ability relative to HS women. No significant difference was found between the HS and NHS women in the 2D:4D digit ratio. There was no association between the digit ratio and spatial performance. These results support an association between increased spatial abilities and heteroflexible sexual orientation, which may possibly be mediated by high prenatal androgens

Topics: Prenatal Androgen, Sexual Orientation, Digit Ratios, Spatial Abilities, Premenopausal Women, Menstrual Phase
Year: 2005
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2004.09.003
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