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Toxoplasma gondii parasite associated with risky business behavior



Toxoplasma gondii. Credit: Wikipedia

An international research team has found a possible link between parasitic infection and risky business behavior. In their article published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B the group outlines an experiment they conducted to test for possible behavioral changes due to Toxoplasma gondii parasitic infections and what they found.

The parasite Toxoplasma gondii is a unicellular and is said to have affected as a group over a quarter of the world's population. Fortunately, most people show very few, if any, symptoms ̵

1; the few who do so tend to report headaches or flu-like symptoms. People are generally infected with the parasite by eating raw or uncooked meat or treating feces (cleaning boxes). In this new effort, the researchers noted that rodents infected with the parasite tend to experience behavioral changes, such as interacting with cats instead of running away from them. They wondered if it was possible that people infected with the virus could also experience behavioral changes.

To find out, they took saliva samples from 1,500 volunteer students. They also collected 200 samples from participants in a seminar for aspiring entrepreneurs. After testing the samples, the researchers found that 22 percent of the tested animals were exposed to the parasite. They also found that of the students tested, those who were infected were 1.4 times more likely to be business majors. They also found that those who attended the seminar were 1.8 times more likely to be infected than those who were not infected to start their own business.

Researchers note that starting a business is considered to be very risky behavior – most fail and suffer economically. As evidence of such infections leading to risky behavior in humans, they cite the fact that people who had been infected by the parasite were more likely to engage in risky persecution.

Researchers plan to continue their research and look for evidence of other behavioral changes such as increased conservatism in some people. They would also like to know if infections occur more often in people who start successful business ventures than in those who fail.


Further information:
A new variant of how parasites invade host cells

Further information:
Stefanie K. Johnson et al. Risky Business: Linking Toxoplasma gondii Infection and Entrepreneurship in Individuals and Countries, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences (2018). DOI: 10.1098 / rspb.2018.0822

Abstract

Disciplines such as economics and economics often rely on the assumption of rationality when they explain complex human behavior. However, there is increasing evidence that the behavior can be simultaneously influenced by infectious microorganisms. The protozoan Toxoplasma gondii infects an estimated 2 billion people worldwide and has been linked to behavioral changes in humans and other vertebrates. Here, we integrate primary data from college students and business professionals with national-level information on cultural attitudes towards businesses to test the hypothesis that T. gondii infection affects both entrepreneurial and social activities. Using a saliva-based assay, we found that students (n = 1495) who tested IgG positive for T. gondii exposure were 1.4 times more likely to be in the business and 1.7 times more likely to be in the range " Management and Entrepreneurship "were other business priorities. Among the professionals participating in entrepreneurship events was the likelihood that T. gondii positive individuals could establish a 1.8 times larger business compared to other participants (n = 197). Finally, following the synthesis and combination of country-specific databases of T. gondii infection over the past 25 years, the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor for Entrepreneurial Activities has found that infection prevalence is a consistent, positive predictor of entrepreneurial activity and intentions at the national level. regardless of whether previously identified economic covariates were included. In countries with a higher rate of infection, there was also a lower proportion of respondents who stated "fear of failure" in preventing new business ventures. Although correlated, these findings highlight the link between parasitic infection and complex human behaviors, including those relevant to enterprise, entrepreneurship, and economic productivity.

Sources in Journal:
Proceedings of the Royal Society B


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