THE BLOG
04/24/2006 10:10 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Testosterone Impairs Judgment -- Study Gives 'Em the Finger


It was buried deep in the news report, but it deserves banner headlines itself.

And if it gets them, men all over America may be getting ring-finger prostheses -- or keeping their hands in their pockets.

Belgian researchers found that the more testosterone a man has, the worse his judgment is likely to be in making financial and business decisions, in certain circumstances. Researchers at the University of Leuven tested straight male students 18 to 28. Some of them were shown nice landscape paintings; the others were shown pictures of hotties. Then they all played a little money game that's really a lab model for competitive behavior like hunting or food sharing.

The men who had just seen pictures of pretty women made dumber money choices than the men who'd looked at pretty scenery. And the dumbest choices of all were made by men who had looked at pretty women AND had the most testosterone. Which means that Mata Hari had the formula - distract 'em and defeat 'em.

The best -- and underreported -- part of this experiment is how the researchers determined which men are loaded with testosterone:

By comparing the length of the index finger to the ring finger. The longer the ring finger in comparison to the index finger, the likelier that the man in question has high testosterone levels.

The implications are tremendous: on the first date, a woman can check out his hand as he reaches across the table for his drink, and size him up in a heartbeat. Prospective employers can assess whether the guy's nature below the waist will affect his judgment above the neck. FBI and CIA recruiters - check the digits and judge his judgment.

It's a formula for a finger specialty for plastic surgeons and prosthetic makers; states may establish a new medical board certification for digit alteration. ``People'' magazine could do a cover story on ''Hollywood Hands - Are The Hunks As Hot As We Think They Are?''

And in case you're wondering, the researchers are one step ahead of you: They've been trying similar tests on women, but so far haven't found a ''visual stimulus'' which similarly derails women's judgment. And no, smart guy, I don't know whether they've tried the Neiman Marcus catalogue.