, Volume 50, Issue 3, pp 173–182 | Cite as

Correlations of Aggressiveness with the Levels of Sex Hormones in Young Men; Validity of a Proposed Anthropometric Marker

  • L. D. PopovaEmail author
  • I. M. Vasil’yeva
  • O. A. Nakonechna

In thirty-five 18- to 22-year-old healthy men (14 and 21 subjects of the Indian and Ukrainian populations, respectively), we examined correlations of the levels of sex hormones (testosterone and β-estradiol) in blood serum with the indices of physical and verbal aggressiveness estimated using the Buss–Durkee Hostility Inventory. In both general examined group and separate above-mentioned subgroups, moderate (r from 0.30 to 0.60) correlations were found between the testosterone concentrations and levels of physical aggressiveness, but these correlations did not reach the significance level. Correlations of testosterone with the levels of verbal aggressiveness were less expressed and, in some cases, negative. Correlations of aggressiveness with the estradiol levels were weaker or negligible. There were some specificities of the sex hormone contents in the Indian and Ukrainian subgroups, but these variations remained within physiological limits. The ratio of the lengths of fingers 2 and 4 of the right hand (2D:4D ratio), an anthropometric index proposed as a marker of prenatal exposure to sex hormones and of the aggressiveness level, demonstrated significant correlations with the testosterone contents in the general group and separate subgroups. However, these correlations were relatively weak, and individual values of the examined indices were highly variable. It is concluded that the 2D:4D ratio is affected not only by the levels of sex hormones, but also by a number of other regulatory factors, and this anthropometric index cannot be used as the single-valued retrospective biomarker of the exposure to androgens.


aggressiveness Buss–Durkee Hostility Inventory testosterone β-estradiol anthropometric marker 2D:4D ratio prenatal and postnatal ontogenesis 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    J. C. Wingfield, S. Lynn, and K. K. Soma, “Avoiding the ‘costs’ of testosterone: ecological bases of hormone-behavior interactions,” Brain Behav. Evol., 57, No. 5, 239-251 (2001).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    B. L. Roth, E. Lopez, Sh. Patel, et al., “The multiplicity of serotonin receptors: uselessly diverse molecules or an embarrassment of riches?,” Neuroscientist, 6, No. 4, 252-262 (2000).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    N. J. MacLusky, T. Hajszan, J. Prange-Kiel, and C. Leranth, “Androgen modulation of hippocampal synaptic plasticity,” Neuroscience, 138, No. 3, 957-965 (2006).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    S. L. Brown, R. L. Steinberg, H. M. Van Praag, “The pathogenesis of depression: reconsideration of neurotransmitter data” in: Handbook of Depression and Anxiety, J. A. Den Boer, J. A. Ad Sitsen (Eds.) N4: Marcel Dekker (1994), pp. 317-347.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    I. D. Neumann, A. H. Veenema, and D. I. Beiderbeck, “Aggression and anxiety: social context and neurobiological links,” Front. Behav. Neurosci., 4, 1-12 (2010).Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    L. Popova and I. Vasylyeva, Neurohumoral Status and Aggression, Lap Lambert Academic Publishing, Germany (2014).Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    L. D. Popova and I. M. Vasylyeva, “Roles of central monoaminergic systems in the formation of different types of aggressiveness in rats,” Neurophysiology, 46, No. 3, 263-266 (2014).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    N. Barden, “Implication of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in the physiopathology of depression,” J. Psychiatry Neurosci., 29, No. 3, 185–193 (2004).PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    A. X. Gorka, R. E. Norman, S. R. Radtke, et al., “Anterior cingulate cortex gray matter volume mediates an association between 2D:4D ratio and trait aggression in women but not men,” Psychoneuroendocrinology, 56, 148-156 (2015).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    J. T. Manning, D. Scutt, J. Wilson, and D. I. Lewis-Jones, “The ratio of 2nd to 4th digit length: a predictor of sperm numbers and concentrations of testosterone, luteinizing hormone and oestrogen,” Hum. Reprod., 13, No. 11, 3000-3004 (1998).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    J. T. Manning and S. J. Robinson, “2nd to 4th digit ratio and a universal mean for prenatal testosterone in homosexual men,” Med. Hypotheses, 61, No. 2, 303-306, (2003).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    S. J. Robinson and J. T. Manning, “The ratio of 2nd to 4th digit length and male homosexuality,” Evol. Hum. Behav., 21, No. 5, 333-345 (2000).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    L. S. Hall and C. T. Love, “Finger-length ratios in female monozygotic twins discordant for sexual orientation,” Arch. Sex. Behav., 32, No. 1, 23-28 (2003).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    S. A. Berenbaum, K. K. Bryk , N. Nowak , et al., “Fingers as a marker of prenatal androgen exposure,” Endocrinology, 150, No. 11, 5119-5124 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Y. Delville, K. M. Mansour, and C. F. Ferris, “Testosterone facilitates aggression by modulating vasopressin receptors in the hypothalamus,” Physiol. Behav., 60, No 1, 25-29 (1996).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    J. M. Carré and N. A. Olmstead, “Social neuroendocrinology of human aggression: examining the role of competition-induced testosterone dynamics,” Neuroscience, 286, 171-186 (2015).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    J. Stefansson, A. Chatzittofis, P. Nordström, et al., “CSF and plasma testosterone in attempted suicide,” Psychoneuroendocrinology, 74, 1-6 (2016).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    D.B. O’Connor , J. Archer, W. M. Hair, and F. C. Wu, “Exogenous testosterone, aggression, and mood in eugonadal and hypogonadal men,” Physiol. Behav., 75, No 4, P. 557-566 (2002).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    K. N. Chichinadze, T. R. Dominiadze, T. Matitaischvili, et al., “Is the blood plasma testosterone level linked with aggressive behaviour of prisoner men?,” Bull. Exp. Biol. Med., 149, No. 1, 11-13 (2010).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    J. M. Carre and N. A. Olmstead, “Social neuroendocrinology of human aggression: Examining the role of competition-induced testosterone dynamics,” Neuroscience, 286, 171–18. (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    J.-C. Dreher, S. Dunne, A. Pazderska, et al., “Testosterone causes both prosocial and antisocial status-enhancing behaviors in human males,” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 113, No. 41, 11633-11638 (2016).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    P. H. Mehta and R. A. Josephs, “Testosterone and cortisol jointly regulate dominance: evidence for a dual-hormone hypothesis,” Horm. Behav., 58, No. 5, 898-906 (2010).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    C. Sorenson Jamison, R. J. Meier, and B. C. Campbell, Dermatoglyphic asymmetry and testosterone levels in normal males,” Am. J. Phys. Anthropol., 90, No. 2, 185-198 (1993).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    S. Lutchmaya, S. Baron-Cohen, P. Raggatt, et al., “2nd to 4th digit ratios, fetal testosterone and estradiol,” Early Hum. Dev., 77, Nos. 1-2, 23-28 (2004).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    A. Okten, M. Kalyoncu, and N. Yariş, “The ratio of second- and fourth-digit lengths and congenital adrenal hyperplasia due to 21-hydroxylase deficiency,” Early Hum. Dev., 70, Nos. 1-2, 47-54 (2002)Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    W. M. Brown, M. Hines, B. A. Fane, and S. M. Breedlove, “Masculinized finger length patterns in human males and females with congenital adrenal hyperplasia,” Horm. Behav., 42, No. 4, 380-386 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    M. Voracek and S. G. Dressler, “Digit ratio (2D:4D) in twins: heritability estimates and evidence for a masculinized trait expression in women from opposite-sex pairs,” Psychol. Rep., 100, No. 1, 115-126 (2007).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    A. Talarovičová, L. Kršková, and J. Blazeková, “Testosterone enhancement during pregnancy influences the 2D: 4D ratio and open field motor activity of rat siblings in adulthood,” Horm. Behav., 55, No. 1, 235-239 (2008).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    C. Zhang, J. Dang, L. Pei, et al. “Relationship of 2D:4D finger ratio with androgen receptor CAG and GGN repeat polymorphism,” Am. J. Hum. Biol., 25, No. 1, 101-106, (2013).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    J. Hönekopp, “No Evidence that 2D:4D is related to the number of CAG repeats in the androgen receptor gene,” Front .Endocrinol .(Lausanne), 4, 185-189 (2013).Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Z. Benderlioglu and R. J. Nelson, “Digit length ratios predict reactive aggression in women, but not in men,” Horm. Behav., 46, No. 5, 558-564 (2004).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    J. Hönekopp, L. Bartholdt, L. Beier, and A. Liebert, “Second to fourth digit length ratio (2D:4D) and adult sex hormone levels: new data and a meta-analytic review,” Psychoneuroendocrinology, 32, No. 4, 313-321 (2007).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    A. A. Beaton, N. Rudling, C. Kissling, et al., “Digit ratio (2D:4D), salivary testosterone, and handedness,” Laterality, 16, No. 2, 136-155 (2011).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    V. Rochira, L Zirilli, A. D. Genazzani, et al., “Hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis in two men with aromatase deficiency: evidence that circulating estrogens are required at the hypothalamic level for the integrity of gonadotropin negative feedback,” Eur. J. Endocrinol., 155, No. 4, 513-522, (2006).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    D. Santi, B. Madeo, F. Carli, et al., “Serum total estradiol, but not testosterone, is associated with reduced bone mineral density (BMD) in HIV-infected men: a cross-sectional, observational study,” Osteoporos. Int., 27, No. 3, 1103-1114 (2016).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Y. Gong, H. Xiao, C. Li, et al., “Elevated T/E2 ratio is associated with an increased risk of cerebrovascular disease in elderly men,” PLoS One, 8, No. 4, e61598 (2013), doi: Scholar
  37. 37.
    P. T. Monteagudo, A. A. Falcão, I. T. Verreschi, and M. T. Zanella, “The imbalance of sex-hormones related to depressive symptoms in obese men,” Aging Male, 19, No. 1, 20-26 (2016).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. D. Popova
    • 1
    Email author
  • I. M. Vasil’yeva
    • 1
  • O. A. Nakonechna
    • 1
  1. 1.Kharkiv National Medical UniversityKharkivUkraine

Personalised recommendations