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Alpha Males Take Greater Risks

A new study has found that the length between the second and fourth finger is an indicator of high levels of prenatal testosterone.

In turn, elevated testosterone is associated with risk-taking and potential financial success in men.

The findings, published in the journal of Personality and Individual Differences, suggest that alpha males may take greater risks in relationships, during competitive exercise events and in the financial market.

“Previous studies have linked high testosterone levels with risky behavior and financial success,” says senior researcher Gad Saad, Concordia University Research Chair.

“We investigated the relationship between prenatal testosterone and various risk proclivities. Our findings show an association between high testosterone and risk-taking among males in three domains: recreational, social and financial. Since women tend to be attracted to men who are fit, assertive and rich, men are apt to take risks with sports, people and money to be attractive to potential mates.

“What’s interesting is that this tendency is influenced by testosterone exposure – more testosterone in the womb can lead to more risks in the rink, the bar and the trading floor in later in life,” says first author and Concordia doctoral student, Eric Stenstrom.

Saad and his team analyzed risk-taking among 413 male and female students using a survey.

“Prenatal testosterone exposure not only influences fetal brain development,” adds study co-author and graduate student, Zack Mendenhall, “but it also slows the growth of the index finger relative to the sum of the four fingers excluding the thumb.”

The change in finger length produced by testosterone provides a handy measure of prenatal testosterone exposure. The study compared the length of the index finger with all four digits (known as the rel2 ratio) and found that those with lower ratios were more likely to engage in risk-taking.

These findings were further confirmed by the additional measurement of the ratio between the index and ring finger. These correlations were only observed in men.

“A possible explanation for the null effects in women is that they do not engage in risky behavior as a mating signal, whereas men do,” says Professor Saad.

Source: Concordia University

Alpha Males Take Greater Risks

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Alpha Males Take Greater Risks. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 15, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2010/11/10/alpha-males-take-greater-risks/20735.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.