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Second-to-Fourth Digit Ratio has a Non-Monotonic Impact on Altruism

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Author Info

  • Pablo Branas-Garza

    (Business School, Middlesex University London, London, UK and Economic Science Institute, Chapman University)

  • Jaromir Kovarik

    ()
    (Dpto. Fundamentos Analisis Economico I & BRiDGE, University of the Basque Country, Bilbao, Spain)

  • Levent Neyse

    (GLOBE: Department of Economics, Universidad de Granada, Granada, Spain)

Abstract

Gene-culture co-evolution emphasizes the joint role of culture and genes for the emergence of altruistic and cooperative behaviors and behavioral genetics provides estimates of their relative importance. However, these approaches cannot assess which biological traits determine altruism or how. We analyze the association between altruism in adults and the exposure to prenatal sex hormones, using the second-to-fourth digit ratio. We find an inverted U-shaped relation for left and right hands, which is very consistent for men and less systematic for women. Subjects with both high and low digit ratios give less than individuals with intermediate digit ratios. We repeat the exercise with the same subjects seven months later and find a similar association, even though subjects' behavior differs the second time they play the game. We then construct proxies of the median digit ratio in the population (using more than 1000 different subjects), show that subjects' altruism decreases with the distance of their ratio to these proxies. These results provide direct evidence that prenatal events contribute to the variation of altruistic behavior and that the exposure to fetal hormones is one of the relevant biological factors. In addition, the findings suggest that there might be an optimal level of exposure to these hormones from social perspective.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Chapman University, Economic Science Institute in its series Working Papers with number 13-09.

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Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:chu:wpaper:13-09

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Related research

Keywords: Altruism; Prosociality; Prenatal Sex Hormones; Digit Ratio; Genoeconomics;

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References

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  1. Nicholas Bardsley, 2008. "Dictator game giving: altruism or artefact?," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 122-133, June.
  2. van der Loos, Matthijs J. H. M. & Benjamin, Daniel J. & Cesarini, David & Dawes, Christopher T. & Koellinger, Philipp D. & Magnusson, Patrik K. E. & Chabris, Christopher F. & Conley, Dalton & Laibson,, 2012. "The Genetic Architecture of Economic and Political Preferences," Scholarly Articles 10121961, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. Fehr, Ernst & Leibbrandt, Andreas, 2011. "A field study on cooperativeness and impatience in the Tragedy of the Commons," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(9-10), pages 1144-1155, October.
  4. David Cesarini & Christopher T. Dawes & Magnus Johannesson & Paul Lichtenstein & Björn Wallace, 2009. "Genetic Variation in Preferences for Giving and Risk Taking," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(2), pages 809-842, May.
  5. Thomas Buser, 2011. "Hormones and Social Preferences," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 11-046/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  6. Santiago Sanchez-Pages & Enrique Turiegano, 2009. "Testosterone, Facial Symmetry and Cooperation in the Prisoners’ Dilemma," ESE Discussion Papers 192, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
  7. Kovarik, Jaromir & Espinosa Alejos, María Paz & Brañas Garza, Pablo & Jiménez, Natalia & Ponti, Giovanni & Cobo Reyes, Ramón, 2009. "Altruism and Social Integration," DFAEII Working Papers 2009-05, University of the Basque Country - Department of Foundations of Economic Analysis II.
    • Kovarik, Jaromir & Espinosa Alejos, María Paz & Brañas Garza, Pablo & Jiménez, Natalia & Ponti, Giovanni & Cobo Reyes, Ramón, 2009. "Altruism and Social Integration," IKERLANAK 2009-35, Universidad del País Vasco - Departamento de Fundamentos del Análisis Económico I.
  8. Brañas Garza, Pablo & Espinosa Alejos, María Paz & Cobo Reyes, Ramón & Jiménez, Natalia & Ponti, Giovanni, 2006. "Altruism in the (Social) Network," DFAEII Working Papers 2006-04, University of the Basque Country - Department of Foundations of Economic Analysis II.
    • Kovarik, Jaromir & Espinosa Alejos, María Paz & Brañas Garza, Pablo & Jiménez, Natalia & Ponti, Giovanni & Cobo Reyes, Ramón, 2009. "Altruism and Social Integration," IKERLANAK 2009-35, Universidad del País Vasco - Departamento de Fundamentos del Análisis Económico I.
  9. Fernando Aguiar & Pablo Brañas-Garza & Ramón Cobo-Reyes & Natalia Jiménez & Luis M. Miller, 2006. "Gender based prescriptions: evidence for altruism," ThE Papers 06/11, Department of Economic Theory and Economic History of the University of Granada..
  10. Ellen Garbarino & Robert Slonim & Justin Sydnor, 2011. "Digit ratios (2D:4D) as predictors of risky decision making for both sexes," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 42(1), pages 1-26, February.
  11. Matthew W. McCarter & Anya C. Samak & Roman M. Sheremeta, 2013. "Divided Loyalties or Conditional Cooperation? An experimental study of contributions to multiple public goods," Working Papers 13-08, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
  12. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Finger length and altruism
    by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2013-03-26 14:26:00
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Cited by:
  1. Neyse, Levent & Brañas-Garza, Pablo, 2014. "Digit Ratio Measurement Guide," MPRA Paper 54134, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Pablo Brañas-Garza & Jaromír Kovárík, 2013. "Digit Ratios and Social Preferences: A Comment on Buser (2012)," Working Papers 13-31, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
  3. Moreno-Garrido, Luis José Blas, 2013. "Relative Injustice Aversion," QM&ET Working Papers 13-4, Universidad de Alicante, Departamento de Métodos Cuantitativos y Teoría Económica.

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