The Bath University study found that even while still in the womb, hormones can shape a person’s attitude towards new technology in the brain. According to them, prenatal testosterone exposure has an impact on the development of the brain, making it either easier or harder for a person to understand technology in later life.
Dr Mark Brosnan, who led the research, said: “It is fascinating that this index of prenatal testosterone exposure is impacting upon university grades 20 years later.” “We have come across many technophobes during our research and this will help us better address their computer-related anxieties,” Dr Brosnan was quoted as saying by The Telegraph.
The levels of prenatal testosterone exposure are higher in computer science students, according to the scientists.
The exposure levels were measured by comparing the length of the students’ ring finger to the index finger. The longer the ring finger in relation to the index finger the better a person’s exposure to prenatal testosterone, they said.
For their study, the researchers compared the finger lengths of 150 computer science students and found in every case a clear link between a student’s grades and the relative lengths of their index and ring fingers.
The team also looked at 119 non-computer science students and found that a shorter ring finger relative to the index finger was connected to greater feelings of anxiety about using technology.
The research suggests that lower exposure to prenatal testosterone relates to general anxiety sensitivity.
Dr Brosnan added: “Anxiety sensitive people, who may have technophobia, often think of themselves as failures or that they are stupid, but everyone has different strengths and weaknesses.
“What this shows is that these people are not failures. The relationship between prenatal testosterone exposure and sensitivity to anxiety could then be useful in tailoring information differently to help anxiety concerning new technologies.” The research will be published in the academic journal Personality And Individual Differences.