The heritability of attitude toward economic risk

Songfa Zhong, Soo Hong Chew, Eric Set, Junsen Zhang, Hong Xue, Pak C. Sham, Richard P. Ebstein, Salomon Israel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The propensity to take risk underpins a wide variety of decision-making behavior, ranging from common ones such as asking for directions and trying out a new restaurant to more substantial economic decisions involving, for instance, one's investment or career. Despite the fundamental role of risk attitude in the economy, its genetic basis remains unknown. Using an experimental economics protocol combined with a classical twin strategy, we provide the first direct evidence of the heritability of economic risk attitude, at 57%. We do not find a significant role for shared environmental effects, a common observation in behavioral genetics that is contrary to commonly held views in economics. Our findings complement recent neuroeconomic studies in enhancing the understanding of the neurobiological basis of risk taking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-107
Number of pages5
JournalTwin Research and Human Genetics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2009


  • Behaviour genetics
  • Economic risk
  • Experimental economics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Genetics(clinical)


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