Cat feces parasite may reduce fear in humans

Avatar By Joseph Scalise | 2 years ago

A parasite commonly found in cat droppings may make people more daring, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

The microscopic organism — known as Toxoplasma gondii — infects 2 billion people around the world and has long been known to make rodents foolishly brave. So brave that they no longer fear predators.

As a result, researchers from the University of Colorado set out to see if it had a similar effect on humans.

To do that, they tested 1,500 students and 200 attendees of entrepreneurial events and then analyzed whether or not they carried the parasite, USA Today reports.

From there, the researchers analyzed databases from 42 different countries and compared them against the earlier data. That revealed those infected with the parasite were much more likely to start their own business and take entrepreneurial risks than healthy individuals.

In fact, subjects at entrepreneurial events who had the parasite were almost twice as likely as others attendees to start their own business, and infected college students were 1.4 times more likely than their peers to major in business.

The team concluded that the correlation, while not definitive, suggests a link between more risky behavior and the parasite.

Currently, over 60 million people across the U.S. likely have the parasite. However, it is often not noticeable and comes with no blatant symptoms. As a result, studying it could help researchers better account for certain behavioral trends.

Though more research needs to be done on the link analyzed in the research, the study adds more credence to the idea that T. gondii does influence human behavior. 

“While correlational, these results highlight the linkage between parasitic infection and complex human behaviors, including those relevant to business, entrepreneurship and economic productivity,” wrote the team in the study, according to Mental Floss.