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Twin Res Hum Genet. 2009 Feb;12(1):103-7. doi: 10.1375/twin.12.1.103.

The heritability of attitude toward economic risk.

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Department of Economics, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong, China.


The propensity to take risk underpins a wide variety of decision-making behavior, ranging from common ones such as asking for directions and trying out a new restaurant to more substantial economic decisions involving, for instance, one's investment or career. Despite the fundamental role of risk attitude in the economy, its genetic basis remains unknown. Using an experimental economics protocol combined with a classical twin strategy, we provide the first direct evidence of the heritability of economic risk attitude, at 57%. We do not find a significant role for shared environmental effects, a common observation in behavioral genetics that is contrary to commonly held views in economics. Our findings complement recent neuroeconomic studies in enhancing the understanding of the neurobiological basis of risk taking.

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