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Want to Be an Entrepreneur? This Cat Parasite Might Help You Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite found in cat poop, can influence behavioral changes in humans and other vertebrates

By Nidhi Singh

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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An increasing number of young people are getting fascinated with entrepreneurship, freedom of time being the primary reason behind the ongoing trend. But entrepreneurship is risky and requires an enormous amount of courage to embrace risks and forge ahead alone in the daunting journey. But what if we give tell you that there is an easy way to become a successful entrepreneur, and its none other than cat poop. It may sound crazy but a new study published in the journal proceedings of the Royal Society B states that Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite found in cat poop, can influence behavioral changes in humans and other vertebrates. It also added that T. gondii infection drives risk-taking in business, further helping in the promotion of entrepreneurial activity. In humans, T. gondii is one of the most common parasites in developed countries. The parasite which reproduces in wild and domestic cats infects an estimated 2 billion people worldwide. While human infections often lack acute symptoms, T. gondii has been correlated with impulsive behaviors and health outcomes such as increased risk of car accidents, road rage, mental illness, neuroticism, drug abuse and suicide.

The Significance of T. gondii

A team of researchers from the University of Colorado, the Frankfurt School of Management and Finance, Deusto University, and the University of Hong Kong conducted this three-part study. The team found that T. gondii-positive individuals were 1.4 times more likely to major in business and 1.7 times more likely to pursue a management and entrepreneurship emphasis. In an additional survey of 197 adult professionals attending entrepreneurship events, infected individuals were 1.8 times more likely to have started their own business compared with other attendees.

To conduct this study, the researchers compiled national statistics from 42 countries over the past 25 years and found that T. gondii infection prevalences proved to be a consistent, positive predictor of entrepreneurial activity, even when controlling for relative national wealth and opportunity factors.

"As humans, we like to think that we are in control of our actions," said Pieter Johnson, the co-lead author of the study and a professor in CU Boulder's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EBIO). "But emerging research shows that the microorganisms we encounter in our daily lives have the potential to influence their hosts in significant ways."

Conquer the Fear of Failure

The study also highlighted that countries with higher infection also had a lower fraction of respondents citing "fear of failure' in preventing new business ventures. While correlational, these results highlight the linkage between parasitic infection and complex human behaviors, including those relevant to business, entrepreneurship and economic productivity.

"We can see the association in terms of the number of businesses and the intent of participants, but we don't know if the businesses started by T.gondii-positive individuals are more likely to succeed or fail in the long run," said Stefanie K. Johnson, lead author of the study and an associate professor in CU Boulder's Leeds School of Business. "New ventures have high failure rates, so a fear of failure is quite rational. T.gondii might just reduce that rational fear."

Nidhi Singh

Former Correspondent, Entrepreneur Asia-Pacific

A self confessed Bollywood Lover, Travel junkie and Food Evangelist.I like travelling and I believe it is very important to take ones mind off the daily monotony .

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