Monoamine oxidase A gene (MAOA) associated with attitude towards longshot risks

Songfa Zhong, Salomon Israel, Hong Xue, Richard P. Ebstein, Soo Hong Chew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Decision making often entails longshot risks involving a small chance of receiving a substantial outcome. People tend to be risk preferring (averse) when facing longshot risks involving significant gains (losses). This differentiation towards longshot risks underpins the markets for lottery as well as for insurance. Both lottery and insurance have emerged since ancient times and continue to play a useful role in the modern economy. In this study, we observe subjects' incentivized choices in a controlled laboratory setting, and investigate their association with a widely studied, promoter-region repeat functional polymorphism in monoamine oxidase A gene (MAOA). We find that subjects with the high activity (4-repeat) allele are characterized by a preference for the longshot lottery and also less insurance purchasing than subjects with the low activity (3-repeat) allele. This is the first result to link attitude towards longshot risks to a specific gene. It complements recent findings on the neurobiological basis of economic risk taking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere8516
JournalPloS one
Volume4
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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