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The worldwide team of scientists looked at data on nearly 1,300 United States students and found that those exposed to the parasite were "1.7 times more likely to be majoring in business", Sky News reports. They noted that the rational fear of failure was found to be reduced to T. gondii infection.
The parasite is found in the brain, as well as the muscles, and mouse and rat studies have shown that infection triggers changes in personality. "T.gondii might just reduce that rational fear", CU Boulder's Stefanie K. Johnson added.
Overall, 22 percent of the people they tested had antibodies to T. gondii, meaning that they had been infected at some point.
In addition they were 1.70 times more likely to be focusing on "management and entrepreneurship" than other business-related areas.
Johnson's team also collected saliva samples from 197 people who attended entrepreneurship events, and each person was asked whether they had started their own business.
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The researchers next want to see if the businesses started by those infected with the parasite are doomed to fail in future because of the lack of fear of failure and the actual reason behind the connection.
"I was surprised at the number of people who had been infected", Pieter said. Those who had tested positive for the parasite were found to be 1.8 times more likely to have started their own businesses. Johnson said infected people have been associated with road rage incidents, suicide and even schizophrenia.
"While correlational, these results highlight the linkage between parasitic infection and complex human behaviours, including those relevant to business, entrepreneurship and economic productivity", the researchers wrote in their study. "Our next research is conservatism, whether toxoplasmosis affects conservatism", she said.
"We thought if all these things are true, maybe it predicts this behavior that is kind of risky, which is entrepreneurship", Johnson said.
An global group of scientists said that the parasites Toxoplasma gondii may be associated with an increase in the propensity to risky behavior and trying to build a career in business. Do they on average outperform other businesses?
"There's this insane finding that if you get infected with this parasite, you could get neurotic and nobody wants to get more neurotic", lead researcher Stefanie Johnson told NBC News.
"Being a professor is literally the most risk-averse job you can do", she said.