A recent study done by the scientists at the University of Toronto, Canada suggests that the risk-taking factor may be associated with your genes. This study was published in the Nature Genetics on 14 January 2019.
According to the study, a total of 124 genetic variants are associated with a person’s desire to take risks. The study provides an insight into the biological mechanisms that influence an individual’s stomach for taking risks.
The scientists say that the effect of these 124 genetic variants in 99 separate regions of the genome are small but their collective effect can be significant.
The authors suggest that gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) lead to an individual’s variation to risk tolerance. They are significant brain activity regulators and the genes that regulate these neurotransmitters are associated with the processing of information.
This study proves that shared genetic influences are related to an overall measure of risk tolerance and risky behaviors. It is said to be one of the largest genetics studies which is based on information from over one million (ten lakh) European individuals.
The authors created a “polygenic score” which includes a consolidated effect of 1 million genetic variants. This score amounts for nearly 1.6 percent of differences in risk tolerance from each person. The polygenic score is helpful to further study how genetic factors connect with environmental factors to influence risky behavior and risk tolerance.
The authors further say that the polygenic score can't voluntarily predict a particular person's tolerance for risk or risk-taking behavior.
Jonathan Beauchamp, co-author of the study and also an assistant professor of economics at the University of Toronto, Canada said, “Genetic variants that are associated with overall risk tolerance - a measure based on self-reports about individuals' tendencies to take risks in general - tend to also be associated with more speeding, drinking, tobacco, and cannabis consumption, and with riskier investments and sexual behavior.”
Beauchamp also said that “We also found shared genetic influences on overall risk tolerance and several personality traits and neuropsychiatric traits including ADHD, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.”
The study found no evidence to support the previously reported links between certain genes and risk tolerance like those associated with dopamine or serotonin and neurochemicals included in the processing of rewards and mood regulation.
Risk-taking not only include adventures but also risky investment decisions and unhealthy eating. Risks have varied responses. Altogether, the study of the genetic base of risk-taking has added intrigue to our understanding of its links with health and well being. The researchers conclude by saying that risk-taking is influenced by genetic factors.