Does Prenatal Testosterone Really Influence Artistic Ability?

Experts have suggested that the level of prenatal testosterone may be related to the growth of typical “masculine” or “feminine” behaviors. The said hormone level is influenced strongly by one’s genetic makeup. However, external factors can also affect it such as chemicals that disrupt hormones.

Women that do not perform any weight loss methods are prone to produce more testosterone, unlike men who use the best best appetite suppressing supplements for fast results. And since pregnant women tend to become overweight, excess testosterone are then transferred to the unborn child.

In the 1999 research of Geoffrey Miller, it was suggested that creative displays and artistry are behaviors that are male-predominant. This may be so by just being a result of a genetic advantage.


According to Miller’s research, one way for evaluating the link between sex hormones, which include prenatal testosterone, and indicators of fitness, in which this case refers to artistic abilities, is to concentrate on sexually dimorphic traits. For humans, the 2nd to 4th digit length or 2D:4D marks prenatal testosterone levels.

If the hormone levels are positively associated with artistic skills, then artists of both female and male genders should display low 2D:4D ratios. Miller’s experiment is to compare the 2D:4D ratio to artistic ability. It has 50 participating artists, with 25 from each gender. The control group comprises 50 non-artists, also having 25 in each gender.


How did the experiment go? All participants, artists and non-artists, are asked to fill up a questionnaire. Indicators such as age, ethnicity, and sex, are to be stated. Truthfully speaking, the study comprises North American and European Caucasians only. Hispanics are not included due to already having a lower 2D:4D ratio than Caucasians.

After filling up those indicators, each has to rate their artistry level from being a non-artist to being a professional. The approximate number of sold visual works must also be indicated for artists. After the info gathering, the participants have to answer the “Bem Sex Role Inventory questionnaire”.

The purpose of this is to measure the factor of androgynous personality with the use of a self-evaluating scale. Also, photographs of each hand of each participant are taken, with palms lying flat and facing upward. From that, 2D:4D ratios are measured using the NIH Image Processing and Analysis in Java software.


Based on the results, the artists have lower 2D:4D ratios than the control sample or the non-artists. On that note, decreasing 2D:4D ratios have no link with the increase in artistic abilities. This means that if the basis of an individual having the innate artistic ability is genes, then the low 2D:4D ratio is an indicator. However, this does not mean that one cannot learn to be artistic.

In relation to prenatal testosterone, Miller’s theories indicate that artistic skills are predominantly shown in males and used for impressing female counterparts. On the other hand, females are more attracted to partners who display artistic talents. The experiment proves that art is related to masculine behavior.


The reason why masculinity is being highlighted is that it has been theorized that prenatal testosterone, wherein the males have abundant of it, can influence artistic ability. The findings from Miller’s research prove it and being a male artist can be seen as an advertisement to females, stating that he has good genes.

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