“Are you a cat person or a dog person?” This simple question can reveal a lot about a person, such as how friendly they are. But, according to a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the answer may also determine the entrepreneurial nature of the individual in question.
The study was led by Stefanie Johnson, an associate professor of management at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Leeds School of Business. After extensive research, she and her team concluded that the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, which is found in cat feces, “may have an influence on risk-taking and entrepreneurial behavior.” The group also found that countries with higher prevalence of the feline parasite also had a low proportion of people who cited “fear of failure” as a reason they hadn’t yet started a business.
Said Johnson in a press release:
“We can see the association in terms of the number of businesses and the intent of participants, but we don’t know if the businesses started by T.gondii-positive individuals are more likely to succeed or fail in the long run. New ventures have high failure rates, so a fear of failure is quite rational. T.gondii might just reduce that rational fear.”
The first-of-its-kind study is compelling because never before have biological factors, such as parasites, been studied in connection with business choices. As Business Insider reports, the findings “suggest that behavior-altering infections like toxoplasmosis could influence human decision-making.”
For the study, Johnson and her team selected 1,495 undergraduate students in biology and business classes. Then, they tested the participants for the presence of T. gondii antibodies; 22% of the group tested positive.
The next step was to analyze the majors of students who tested positive. Johnson and colleagues found that students who tested positive for the parasite were 1.4 times more likely to be a business major than those who weren’t infected. “Among the business majors, students who tested positive were 1.7 times more likely to be focusing on management and entrepreneurship,” reports Business Insider.
The researchers also tested for connections between T. gondiiand on a global level. After compiling data on the prevalence of the infection in 42 countries, they compared the findings with national surveys of activities and attitudes related to entrepreneurial behavior. It was concluded that there is a positive correlation between the presence of the parasite in a population and the proportion of people who either intend to launch their own business or already have.
Though more research is needed, it seems likely that parasitic infections could be infecting our culture and economy on a larger scale than previously realized. What are your thoughts? Please comment below and share this news!