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2D:4D, Sexual Orientation, East Versus West: Maybe It’s True the Twain Shall Never Meet (on Average)

Lee Ellis and Amy Lykins


Published: 2013/12/01


Evidence has been inconsistent regarding any links between the 2D:4D ratio and sexual orientation. The present study was undertaken to (a) further test the hypothesis that the 2D:4D ratio is associated with sexual orientation and (b) explore the possible confounding influence of ethnicity in these relationships. Samples of college students in Malaysia and the U.S. reported their 2D:4D ratios on their right hand (r2D:4D), sexual orientation, and ethnicity. Modest tendencies were found for homosexual preferences to be positively associated with r2D:4D among males and inversely associated among females, although there were ethnic differences in this regard. The ethnic differences in the r2D:4D ratios seemed to parallel Asian/Western differences in sexual orientation, with diminished opposite-gender preferences among Asians, especially Asian females. Analysis of how r2D:4D and sexual orientation were correlated revealed few significant relationships except among females. As theoretically predicted, correlations between r2D:4D and homosexual attractions were negative for the three Western ethnic samples (two of which were statistically significant). Unexpectedly, however, female homosexual attractions were significantly positively correlated with r2D:4D in all three Asian samples. Overall, findings suggest that at least among females, prenatal androgen exposure may be less responsible for variations in sexual orientation in Asian than in Western populations. “Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.” Rudyard Kipling, 1892

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