Four example photographs of hands and arms scoring high or low on the ‘Hand Masculinity Index’: (a) High masculinity male hand; (b) low masculinity male hand; (c) high masculinity female hand; (d) low masculinity female hand.

Like faces, hands and forearms may provide cues to quality and sex-typical hormone exposure used in mate choice. Untill recently finger length (ratio) was the only measure that has been used to evaluate hand attractiveness. But last year (december 2009), L.K. Dane presented a rather surprizing Ph. D. disertation study at the University of New Mexico which provides quite a lot of new insights aboutwhat makes hands attractive for the opposite sexe!

A quick summary of the key-results:

“Men with male typical hand index scores, low 2D:4D digit ratio and high ridge counts were rated as more masculine, dominant, intelligent, healthy and as good parents. Women with feminine hands, high 2D:4D digit ratio and high ridge counts were rated as more feminine. Results were mostly consistent with similar research on faces.”

The results also confirmed that the ‘masculinity’ factor of the hands plays a major role in how attractive / appealing hands are for the other sexe. In men a positive correlation was found between ‘hand masculinity’ and both the ‘face masculinity’ and ‘face attractiveness’. In women a positive correlation was found between ‘hand masculinity” and ‘face masculinity’, while a negative correlation was found between ‘hand masculinity’ and ‘face attractiveness’.

At first sight this may sound not as a big surprize. But a fascinating aspect inside the results is that in men the correlation between ‘hand masculinty’ and ‘face attractiveness’ is even higher (more significant) than the correlation between ‘hand masculinity’and ‘face masculinity’!!

Another interesting element provided by the study is that features of the arm were observed as well:

“Within men, an analysis of separate hand and arm ratings indicated that a combination of masculine hands with less masculine forearms was most attractive.”

A re-definition of the word ‘handsome’?

The result of the study clearly illustrate how ‘masculinity’ in men appeals to women:

While women like men to have ‘masculine hands’… but women do not mind at all when a man’s body (arm + face) is a little bit less masculine than their hands are!!

Why do women have this preference?? The answer remains unclear: but maybe it is related to the fact that only the hands provide ‘genetic’ cues about sexually dimorphic characteristics (2D:4D digit ratio, fingerprints & ridge counts) that are already established before birth!

 Males vs. females: sexe differences in the hand!
Finger length & sex I.D.: find out how your mind works!
 What your physique reveals about your health!

Portrait of Giacomo Casanova.
Portrait of Giacomo Casanova by Pietro Longhi.

‘Giacomo Casanova had the long ring finger!’

In the history of the world literature there are many references to variations in the length of fingers. But of all revelations none are more lively than the informative comment in the memoirs of Giacomo Casanova (Jacques Casanova de Seingalt, 1725-1798). Finger professor John T. Manning points points out in ‘The Finger Book’ to an anecdote of Casanova – who has been described as the ‘world’s greatest lover’.

Finger professor John T. Manning.

Manning writes on page 2 of his second book The Finger book:

“Casanova was an eighteenth-century musician, gambler, soldier, philosopher, writer, librarian, aspiring priest and, of course, womaniser. It is anecdotal but entirely unsurprising that we find from his diaries that he had a ring finger noticably longer than his index finger.”

“Casanova’s adventures took him across Europe, and it is during his stay in Spain that we learn of the relative length of his fingers. At the time Casanova was enjoying the hospitality of the German neoclassical painter Anton Raphael Mengs. Today Mengs’s work is often regarded as cold and contrived, but at the time he was seen by many as Europe’s greatest living painter, and Goya was one of his many students.”

“In the course of his stay Casanova’s relations with his host were less than cordial. Mengs was openly scathing at what he saw as Casanova’s neglect of his religious duties, and he even attempted to evict Casanova from his household after he had failed to take the sacrament at Easter. Casanova meanwhile complained that Mengs was a lascivous, bad-tempered, jealous, avaricous drunkard who beat his children to excess.”

“It is against this background of growing mutual dislike that Casanova recounts a dispute in which he drew Mengs’s attention to the hand of the pricipal figure in one of his paintings, claiming that it was faulty because the ring finger was shorter than the index finger. Mengs assured him this was the correct human condition, showing Casanova his own long index finger and short ring finger. Laughing, Casanova displayed his badge of prenatal masculinity, and asserted that he was sure that his ring finger, unlike Mengs’s, was ‘like that of all children descended from Adam’. A wager of a hundred pistoles was made, and a hurried comparison with the ring fingers of the painter’s servants showed the ‘Casanova pattern’ to be the more common.”

The Memoirs of Giacomo Casanova di Seingalt.

Peters et al. (2002) reported that Casanova made two clear statements: first, that the ring finger is relatively longer than the index finger and, second, that this is the case for both men and women. What follows is a quote from the work of Casanova (The Memoirs of Casanova: Spanish Passions) about one of his conversations with the German neoclassic painter Anton Raphael Mengs.


… Once I dared to tell him that he had made a mistake in the hand of one of his figures, as the ring finger was shorter than the index. He replied sharply that it was quite right, and shewed me his hand by way of proof. I laughed, and shewed him my hand in return, saying that I was certain that my hand was made like that of all the descendants of Adam.

“Then whom do you think that I am descended from?”
“I don’t know, but you are certainly not of the same species as myself.”
“You mean you are not of my species; all well-made hands of men, and women too, are like mine and not like yours.”
“I’ll wager a hundred doubloons that you are in the wrong.”

He got up, threw down brushes and palette, and rang up his servants, sayin,-

“We shall see which is right.”

The servant came, and on examination he found that I was right. For once in his life, he laughed and passed it off as a joke, saying-

“I am delighted that I can boast of being unique in one particular, at all events.”

BBC Test: finger length & sex I.D.!
Finger length & Cupid’s science!
The science of gaydar: finger length & sexual preference!
What they say about men with long ring fingers!

Giacomo Casanova's 'History of My Life' - part 1 to 12.