Examining the effect of prenatal testosterone and aggression on sporting choice and sporting longevity

Reed, Scott and Meggs, Jennifer (2017) Examining the effect of prenatal testosterone and aggression on sporting choice and sporting longevity. Personality and Individual Differences, 116. pp. 11-15. ISSN 0191-8869

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Digit ratio (2D:4D; a putative correlate of prenatal testosterone) has been reported to be negatively associated with aggression in non-sporting and sporting populations. 2D:4D has previously been suggested to be a potential biomarker for successful competitive performance within boxing football, rugby, athletics, skiing, and gym-based exercises. However, to date no study has attempted to investigate prenatal testosterone levels as a predictor of sporting choice. This study included a sample of both athletes and non-sports people in order to examine associations between prenatal testosterone (2D:4D), aggression, choice of sport (contact vs. non-contact), attainment level, and longevity. 200 male participants completed a self-report measure for aggression followed by providing a hand scan, which was later used to measure 2D:4D using Vernier Calipers. Results showed individuals involved in sport exhibited significantly greater levels of both prenatal testosterone (lower 2D:4D) and physical aggression compared with their non-sporting counterparts. Athletes from contact sports (rugby, football and boxing) were found to have significantly lower 2D:4D and significantly higher levels of physical aggression compared to athletes from non-contact sports (basketball, golf, weight-training, badminton). Additional findings, regarding longevity, showed those exposed to higher levels of prenatal testosterone (low 2D:4D) had been involved in sport for more years compared to those with high 2D:4D, adjusting for age. Findings may contribute to more reliable predictions of sporting selection and longevity. Future studies should look to replicate findings across a greater variety of sports using professional/elite populations.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Personality and Individual Differences
Additional Information:
This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Personlaity and Individual Differences. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Personality and Individual Differences, 116, 2017 DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2017.04.022
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19 Aug 2019 14:00
Last Modified:
17 Sep 2023 02:39