Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The ratio between the second and fourth digits (2D:4D) has been widely used as a proxy for fetal exposure to androgens and has been linked to a number of sociosexual traits in humans. However, the role of genes in this equation remains unknown. Here (N = 474), we test, firstly, for associations between 2D:4D and single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in nine neurochemical receptor genes (AR, OXTR, AVPR1A, OPRM1, DRD1/2, ANKK1, 5HTR1A/2A), and secondly, whether digit ratios mediate the relationship between genetic variation and sociosexuality. We demonstrate significant associations between AR, OPRM1 and AVPR1A and 2D:4D. Moreover, mediation analysis indicates that, in women, AR and OPRM1 variation drives digit ratios, which are related positively to impulsivity and, for OPRM1, negatively to romantic relationship quality. Although these findings are subject to multiple testing issues, this study provides preliminary evidence that in women genetic factors may affect both impulsivity and perceived relationship quality through influencing factors indexed by digit ratios.

Original publication




Journal article


Biol Lett

Publication Date





digit ratio, sociosexual behaviour, testosterone, vasopressin, β-endorphin