Size does matter, at least when it comes to a man’s fingers. The ratio of a man’s fingers can reveal whether he’s a good or cheap date. According to a recent study to be published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, if a man’s index finger is shorter than his ring finger, he’s more likely to spend money to impress a woman, like buying flowers or paying for dinner.

Finger length is influenced during fetal development in the womb. Exposure to high levels of hormones — testosterone for males and estrogen for females — has an effect on finger length. In 2011, researchers Zhengui Zheng and Martin Cohn of Stanford University in California conducted a study that found the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone control genes that dictate finger length. For example, the shorter the index finger is in relation to the ring finger, the higher the levels of testosterone that person is likely to have been exposed to while in utero.

However, Dr. Marcelo Nepomuceno of Montreal University’s business school, HEC Montreal and her colleagues, believed finger length could reveal more than just a person’s hormones levels — their dating personality, too. The researchers recruited 1,000 people (both men and women) for two different studies, to see the influence finger length has on courtship. Men with “masculinized fingers” were defined as those with a short index finger in comparison to their ring finger, whereas “feminized fingers” were seen as those with a longer index finger compared to their ring finger.

Men with masculinized fingers were more likely to make greater efforts toward impressing someone they are romantically interested in. They were more willing to give romantic gifts like flowers and chocolates to their love interests, and buy them dinners in nice restaurants. Moreover, these men tended to take care of their appearance by wearing stylish clothes and even putting on expensive aftershave for their date. They tended to work out in the gym "to be more attractive," and would "show off expensive items to women" during a date, wrote the study authors.

In this study, the researchers concluded: “Therefore, prenatal testosterone drives men to put more time and energy into buying products and services in order to impress women.”

The female participants with feminized fingers were similar to their masculinized finger counterparts when it came to dating behaviors. Women who had longer index fingers than their ring fingers were more likely to make a greater effort to attract potential boyfriends and buy them romantic gifts. They were also more likely to wear makeup, wear stylish clothes, use special perfume, and even wear jewelry to allure potential suitors.

Here, the researchers believe it is the prenatal estrogen exposure that compels women to “spend more time and energy toward buying products and services in order to impress men.”

The initial findings prompted the researchers to ask consumer behavior to pursue partners driven by exposure to prenatal testosterone in men and exposure to prenatal estrogen in women. Prenatal testosterone has been associated with sex drive in men, while prenatal estrogen has been associated with sex drive in women. Therefore, the researchers conclude these hormonal increases can lead both sexes to put greater efforts and energy into impressing the opposite sex.

Men with shorter index fingers and longer ring fingers have also been known to be nicer to women. These men tend to have “…more harmonious relationships with women; these behaviors support the formation and maintenance of relationships with women. This might explain why they have more children on average,” Debbie Moskowitz, lead author and Professor of Psychology at McGill, said in the press release.

So ladies, you can either play the hand you’re dealt with, for better or for worse. Fingers crossed!

Sources: Iglesias F, Mendenhall Z, Nepomuceno MV et al. Testosterone at your fingertips: Digit ratios (2D:4D and rel2) as predictors of courtship-related consumption intended to acquire and retain mates. Journal of Consumer Psychology.

Cohn MJ and Zheng Z. Developmental basis of sexually dimorphic digit ratios. PNAS. 2011.