An Endocrine Basis for Tomboy Identity: the second-to-fourth digit ratio (2D:4D) in "tomboys"

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  2. Beth Atkinson
  3. Dr Tom Smulders
  4. Dr Joel Wallenberg
Author(s)Atkinson BM, Smulders TV, Wallenberg JC
Publication type Article
ISSN (print)0306-4530
ISSN (electronic)1873-3360
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This paper investigates the relationship between organizational effects of pre-natal testosterone and the use of “tomboy” as a descriptor for young women. We show in a sample of 44 women that a person’s right hand 2D:4D ratio is a significant predictor of whether they will be labeled as a “tomboy”, with a decrease in 2D:4D ratio corresponding to an increase in the probability of being called “tomboy”. Taking the right hand 2D:4D ratio as a proxy for the abundance of testosterone in the early life hormonal milieu, we propose that organizing effects of higher pre-natal T lead to increased masculine-typical behavior in childhood, which increases the likelihood some women will be referred to as tomboys. We suggest that the increase in masculine-typical behaviors is a result of how the organizing effects of T on the brain interact with children’s social modeling of male-coded and female-coded behaviors.
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