SIFR Research Report Series, Institute for Financial Research
Dopamine and Risk Preferences in Different Domains
(), David G. Rand, Justin R. Garcia, Nils Wernerfelt, J. Koji Lum and Richard Zeckhauser
Abstract: Individuals differ significantly in their willingness to
take risks. Such differences may stem, at least in part, from individual
biological (genetic) differences. We explore how risk-taking behavior
correlates with different versions of the dopamine receptor D4 gene (DRD4),
which has been implicated in previous studies of risk taking. We
investigate risk taking in three contexts: economic risk taking as proxied
by a financial gamble, self-reported general risk taking, and self-reported
behavior in risk-related activities. Our participants are serious
tournament bridge players with substantial experience in risk taking.
Presumably, this sample is much less varied in its environment than a
random sample of the population, making genetic based differences easier to
detect. A prior study (Dreber et al. 2010) looked at risk taking by these
individuals in their bridge decisions. Here we examine the riskiness of
decisions they take in other contexts. We find evidence that individuals
with a 7-repeat allele (7R+) of DRD4 take significantly more economic risk
in an investment game than individuals without this allele (7R-).
Interestingly, this positive relationship is driven by the men in our
study, while the women show a negative but non-significant result. Even
though the number of 7R+ women in our sample is low, our results may
indicate a gender difference in how the 7R+ genotype affects behavior, a
possibility that merits further study. Considering other risk measures, we
find no difference between 7R+ and 7R- individuals in general risk taking
or any of the risk-related activities. Overall, our results indicate that
the dopamine system plays an important role in explaining individual
differences in economic risk taking in men, but not necessarily in other
activities involving risk.
Keywords: Risk preferences; Dopamine; Risk taking; Risk perception; DRD4; (follow links to similar papers)
JEL-Codes: C91; C93; D03; D81; D87; G00; (follow links to similar papers)
21 pages, May 15, 2010
Before downloading any of the electronic versions below
you should read our statement on
for viewing Postscript files and the
Acrobat Reader for viewing and printing pdf files.
Full text versions of the paper:
Questions (including download problems) about the papers in this series should be directed to Anki Helmer ()
Report other problems with accessing this service to Sune Karlsson ()
or Helena Lundin ().
Design by Joachim Ekebom