Digit ratio (2D:4D), academic performance in computer science and computer-related anxiety

Mark Brosnan, Victoria Gallop, Nida Iftikhar, Edmund Keogh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (SciVal)


Being able to use information communication technology (ICT) effectively has become an essential element of participation within an increasingly digital culture. However, there are differences in participation within this digital culture. Prenatal testosterone exposure is thought to influence the development of numeric capabilities and relate to levels of anxiety, both of which contribute towards engagement with ICT. This study examined whether an index of prenatal exposure to testosterone, digit ratio (2D:4D), is related to successful involvement within a computer-technology context – performance in a Java programming course. Three studies (N = 73,75,65) identified a consistent negative correlation between 2D:4D digit ratio and attainment (r ≈ −0.2). A fourth study (N = 119) found that 2D:4D digit ratio positively correlated with two indices of computer-related anxieties, as well as anxiety sensitivity (r = 0.32/0.51). These results suggest that males and females who have been exposed to higher levels of testosterone within the womb perform better upon academic assessments of Java-related programming ability within computer science education, and have lower levels of computer-related anxieties outside computer science education. Thus, the 2D:4D index of prenatal testosterone exposure correlated with the two factors that directly impact upon ICT engagement, which is increasingly essential to effectively participate within educational and occupational environments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-375
Number of pages5
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2011


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