New findings point to some biological mechanisms that influence overall risk-taking

New findings point to some biological mechanisms that influence overall risk-taking

News from IBE, UPF

An international group of scientists has identified 124 genetic variants associated with a person's willingness to take risks. The study, published in Nature Genetics, has counted with the participation of researchers at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology (IBE) and Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal).

The scientists highlight that no variant on its own meaningfully affects a particular person’s risk tolerance or penchant for making risky decisions, and non-genetic factors matter more for risk tolerance than genetic factors. Yet, taken together, the genetic variants identified in the study shed light on some of the biological mechanisms that influence a person’s willingness to take risks.

"In order to reach significant conclusions, many research groups decided to join forces and incorporate our genomic analyzes into a common database," says Arcadi Navarro, principal investigator at the IBE.

It is one of the largest genetic studies to date, based on the genetic information of more than one million people of European origin.

Although the effects of each of the 124 genetic variants are very small, their combined impact can be significant. The 124 genetic variants are located in 99 separate regions of the genome. "Some of them correspond to regions with genetic inversions that have also been associated with other neuropsychiatric phenotypes and related to cognitive development," explains Juan Ramón Gonzalez, ISGlobal researcher and responsible for these studies.


Karlsson Linnér et al. 2019. Genome-wide association analyses of risk tolerance and risky behaviors in over 1 million individuals identify hundreds of loci and shared genetic influences. Nature Genetics, 2019. DOI: 10.1038/s41588-018-0309-3

More information:
IBE website
UPF website