CU Study: Parasite In Cat Poop May Make Humans More Business Savvy

A parasite found in cat faeces has been linked to a higher likelihood of entrepreneurial behaviour in people who are

A parasite found in cat faeces has been linked to a higher likelihood of entrepreneurial behaviour in people who are infected

A new study has found that people who have had T. gondii infection are around 1.4 times more likely to major in business studies compared to those who were not infected.

File of cat in a litter box.

Toxoplasma gondii in venous blood - toxoplasmosis.

She also said toxoplasma's effect on a person might be different if the infection comes from some other source, like eating contaminated meat, as opposed to getting it directly from cat feces.

Humans can be infected with Toxoplasma gondii parasite if they come into contact with cat faeces or contaminated products
Litter tray parasite toxoplasmosis could turn you into business fat cat

The findings suggested that reduced fear of failure may be the key factor explaining the association between T. gondii infection and entrepreneurship.

More than 2 billion people, including 60 million in the United States, are estimated to be infected with T. gondii, though very few show any symptoms. Severe toxoplasmosis may include damage to the brain and eyes, such as reduced or blurred vision.

However, if the symptoms emerge during pregnancy toxoplasmosis can cause miscarriage and it can also lead to problems if it spreads to the baby.

Other examples of such parasite-host interactions abound in nature, including the infamous Ophiocordyceps unilateralis fungus that hijacks carpenter ants' brains and compels self-destructive behavior.

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Dr Stefanie Johnson, from the University of Colorado's Leeds School of Business in the U.S., and her fellow authors wrote: "Populations with higher T. gondii infection had greater intentions to start a business and higher levels of active entrepreneurship behaviours". Do they on average outperform other businesses?

Johnson said her team is going to continue testing the links. "There's got to be many, many more", she said. They suggest that behaviour-altering infections like toxoplasmosis could influence human decision-making. "T.gondii might just reduce that rational fear".

For this study the team recruited 1,495 undergraduate students in biology and business classes.

It can only reproduce in domestic cats and their relatives and passes to animals that come into contact with cat faeces.

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They saliva tested almost 1,700 subjects for antibodies to toxoplasma. Among those majoring in business studies, the T. gondii positive students were 1.7 times more likely to be on the tracks of entrepreneurship and management. They also asked the business students what their area of emphasis was.

Additionally, a study of 197 professionals who attended entrepreneurship events found those infected were 1.8 times more likely to have started their own business.

In addition, analysis of statistics from 42 different countries found that the prevalence of the infection was a "consistent, positive predictor of entrepreneurial activity", according to the study, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. In a striking discovery by researchers at the University of Colorado, the parasite may actually cause individuals to develop an affinity for business and become entrepreneurs. Like what happens to the businesses that are created by people with toxoplasma.

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