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

Author

Listed:
  • 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Pablo Branas-Garza & Jaromir Kovarik & Levent Neyse, 2013. "Second-to-Fourth Digit Ratio has a Non-Monotonic Impact on Altruism," Working Papers 13-09, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:chu:wpaper:13-09
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Fernando Aguiar & Pablo Brañas-Garza & Ramón Cobo-Reyes & Natalia Jimenez & Luis Miller, 2009. "Are women expected to be more generous?," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 12(1), pages 93-98, March.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. Buser, Thomas, 2012. "Digit ratios, the menstrual cycle and social preferences," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 457-470.
    5. 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, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(2), pages 809-842.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. Brañas-Garza, Pablo & Cobo-Reyes, Ramón & Espinosa, María Paz & Jiménez, Natalia & Kovárík, Jaromír & Ponti, Giovanni, 2010. "Altruism and social integration," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 249-257, July.
      • Brañas Garza, Pablo & Cobo Reyes, Ramón & Espinosa Alejos, María Paz & Jiménez, Natalia & Kovarik, Jaromir & Ponti, Giovanni, 2009. "Altruism and Social Integration," IKERLANAK 2009-35, Universidad del País Vasco - Departamento de Fundamentos del Análisis Económico I.
      • Brañas Garza, Pablo & Cobo Reyes, Ramón & Espinosa Alejos, María Paz & Jiménez, Natalia & Kovarik, Jaromir & Ponti, Giovanni, 2009. "Altruism and Social Integration," DFAEII Working Papers 2009-35, University of the Basque Country - Department of Foundations of Economic Analysis II.
    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. Nicholas Bardsley, 2008. "Dictator game giving: altruism or artefact?," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 11(2), pages 122-133, June.
    11. 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.
    12. 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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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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 19:26:00

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    Cited by:

    1. Subhasish M. Chowdhury & Joo Young Jeon, 2013. "Altruism, Anticipation, and Gender," Working Paper series, University of East Anglia, Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Science (CBESS) 13-06, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
    2. Cueva, Carlos & Iturbe-Ormaetxe, Iñigo & Mata-Pérez, Esther & Ponti, Giovanni & Sartarelli, Marcello & Yu, Haihan & Zhukova, Vita, 2016. "Cognitive (ir)reflection: New experimental evidence," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 81-93.
    3. Judit Alonso & Roberto Di Paolo & Giovanni Ponti & Marcello Sartarelli, 2017. "Some (Mis)facts about 2D:4D, Preferences and Personality," Working Papers. Serie AD 2017-08, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
    4. repec:eee:eecrev:v:101:y:2018:i:c:p:35-56 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Neyse, Levent & Brañas-Garza, Pablo, 2014. "Digit ratio measurement guide," Kiel Working Papers 1914, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    6. Sergio Da Silva & Bruno Moreira & Newton Da Costa Jr, 2015. "Handedness and digit ratio predict overconfidence in cognitive and motor skill tasks in a sample of preschoolers," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 35(2), pages 1087-1097.
    7. Neyse, Levent & Ring, Patrick & Bosworth, Steven, 2015. "Prenatal testosterone exposure predicts mindfulness: Does this mediate its effect on happiness?," Kiel Working Papers 1999, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    8. Luis José Blas Moreno Garrido, 2015. "Relative Injustice Aversion," Working Papers. Serie AD 2015-08, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
    9. repec:eee:soceco:v:69:y:2017:i:c:p:18-28 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Moreno-Garrido, Luis José Blas, 2013. "Relative Injustice Aversion," QM&ET Working Papers 13-4, University of Alicante, D. Quantitative Methods and Economic Theory, revised 27 Jul 2015.
    11. 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.
    12. repec:eee:soceco:v:72:y:2018:i:c:p:86-94 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Galizzi, Matteo M. & Nieboer, Jeroen, 2015. "Digit ratio (2D:4D) and altruism: evidence from a large, multi-ethnic sample," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 60982, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    14. Neyse, Levent & Friedl, Andreas & Schmidt, Ulrich, 2014. "Payment Scheme Changes and Effort Provision: The Effect of Digit Ratio," MPRA Paper 59549, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    Keywords

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

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