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2D:4D Does Not Predict Economic Preferences: Evidence from a Large, Representative Sample

SOEPpapers 1086, 38 S.

Levent Neyse, Magnus Johannesson, Anna Dreber


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The digit ratio (2D:4D) is considered a proxy for testosterone exposure in utero, and there has been a recent surge of studies testing whether 2D:4D is associated with economic preferences. Although the results are not conclusive, previous studies have reported statistically significant correlations between 2D:4D and risk taking, altruism, positive reciprocity, negative reciprocity and trust. Many “researcher degrees of freedom” and small sample sizes are important limitations of previous studies. We present results from a pre-registered large sample study testing if 2D:4D is associated with economic preferences. Data were collected in a representative sample of adults in the German Socioeconomic Panel-Innovation Sample (SOEP-IS), in a sample of about 3,450 respondents (about 5 times larger than the previously largest study in this field). We find no statistically significant association between 2D:4D and economic preferences in the largest study to this date on the topic.

Levent Neyse

Research Associate in the German Socio-Economic Panel study Department

JEL-Classification: D03;D87
Keywords: Economic behavior, prenatal hormones, testosterone, digit ratio
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