When you are looking at a menu, torn between ordering healthily or unhealthily, you would be forgiven for thinking your rumbling stomach might decide for you.
But it turns out the answer lies in your hands, because hungry people with manly fingers make more “masculine food choices”, such as a hamburger and chips, rather than choosing a Caesar salad, a study has found.
People who have a ring and index finger similar in length – a biomarker of masculinity – are more likely to reach for stodgy and meaty foods when their stomach is rumbling, according to scientists from Scandinavia. Those with a longer index finger are more likely to crave “feminine” foods such as fish and salads, the research showed.
“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate that a biomarker linked to prenatal testosterone exposure – ie the digit ratio – interacts with consumers’ hunger levels to affect their preference patterns and choice behavior towards food options with a more masculine gender image,” the study says.
“These findings expand the knowledge on when and how prenatal exposure to sex hormones may affect consumers’ food preferences.”
Although those with a low digit ratio were men most of the time, there were some exceptions – meaning women can also make “masculine” food choices under the right conditions and vice-versa.
Researchers measured the index and ring finger length of 216 Chinese people, half of whom were female. Each person was assigned a ratio figure that captured how different those two fingers were in length. Those with less difference in length between the two fingers were categorised as more “masculine”, as a low digit ratio is associated with exposure to higher levels of testosterone in the womb.
“Consumers with masculine (vs feminine) digit ratios are particularly prone to prefer and choose food options with a masculine gender image when they are hungry,” the study says.