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Reading: Digit Ratios, Finger Length, and Basic Musical Abilities

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Research Article

Digit Ratios, Finger Length, and Basic Musical Abilities

Authors:

Martin Voracek ,

Department of Basic Psychological Research, School of Psychology, at the University of Vienna, AT
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Jakob Pietschnig

Department of Basic Psychological Research, School of Psychology, at the University of Vienna, AT
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Abstract

Among elite orchestra musicians (predominantly men), a lower (masculinised) second-to-fourth digit ratio (2D:4D), a putative marker of prenatal testosterone levels, has been shown to be associated with higher musical-ability rankings (Sluming & Manning, 2000). Seeking to extend this evidence, this study examined associations of digit ratios (2D:4D and other) and absolute finger length (a putative marker of pubertal-adolescent testosterone levels) with basic musical abilities (Seashore battery) in a sample of 124 adult non-musicians. Among women better pitch discrimination corresponded to lower (masculinised) digit ratios and longer (masculinised) fingers, whilst among men directionally opposite and thus not theory compliant correlations of rhythm and time discrimination with finger-length measures emerged. Similarly, although men exceeded women on most of the Seashore tasks, these sex differences were negligible, with the exception of timbre discrimination. On the whole, significant associations between the study variables were sparse and yielded little support for the assumption that prenatal or pubertal-adolescent androgen effects may partly influence within-sex individual variation in basic musical abilities among adult non-musicians.
How to Cite: Voracek, M. & Pietschnig, J., (2009). Digit Ratios, Finger Length, and Basic Musical Abilities. Psychologica Belgica. 49(1), pp.1–18. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/pb-49-1-1
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Published on 01 Jan 2009.
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