A parasite found in cat feces could reduce humans’ fear of failure, leading more people to become entrepreneurs, a new study said.
Researchers found that Toxoplasma gondii — the behavior-altering parasite that infects an estimated 2 billion people worldwide — could be responsible for breaking down the mental barriers that stop people from taking risks, like launching a business, said the study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Toxoplasmosis can increase the risk of “car accidents, mental illness, neuroticism, drug abuse and suicide,” the study said. The paper doesn’t prove a causal relationship between the parasite and a decrease in people’s fear of failure.
Study author Stefanie Johnson, a business professor at the University of Colorado, teamed up with her husband — a biology professor — to saliva tested nearly 1,700 students and business professionals for antibodies to toxoplasma. About 22 percent had once been infected.
Students who tested positive for T. gondii were 1.4 times more likely to major in business and 1.7 times more likely to focus on management and entrepreneurship compared with other business areas, the study said. Among professionals at entrepreneurship seminars, T. gondii-positive individuals were 1.8 times more likely to have started their own businesses compared to other attendees.