Gene-culture co-evolution emphasizes the joint role of culture and genes for the emergence of altruistic and cooperative behaviors and behav- ioral genetics provides estimates of their relative importance. However, these approaches cannot assess which biological traits determine altruism or how. We analyze the association between altruism in adults and the exposure to prenatal sex hormones, using the second-to-fourth digit ratio. We nd an inverted U-shaped relation for left and right hands, which is very consistent for men and less systematic for women. Subjects with both high and low digit ratios give less than individuals with intermediate digit ratios. We repeat the exercise with the same subjects seven months later and nd a similar association, even though subjects' behavior di ers the second time they play the game. We then construct proxies of the median digit ratio in the population (using more than 1000 di erent subjects), show that subjects' altruism decreases with the distance of their ratio to these proxies. These results provide direct evidence that prenatal events contribute to the variation of altruistic behavior and that the exposure to fetal hormones is one of the relevant biological factors. In addition, the ndings suggest that there might be an optimal level of exposure to these hormones from social perspective.
Brañas-Garza, P., Kovarik, J., & Neyse, L. (2013). Second-to-fourth digit ratio has a non-monotonic impact on altruism. ESI Working Paper 13-09. Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.chapman.edu/esi_working_papers/49