An Excuse For Risky Business

Men tend to dominate the investment world and, apparently, they tend to be a lot riskier than women, according to a study by Crister Gerdes and Patrik Gränsmark of Stockholm University, Strategic Behavior across Gender: A Comparison of Female and Male Expert Chess Players [pdf]:

This paper aims to measure differences in risk behavior among expert chess players. The study employs a panel data set on international chess with 1.4 million games recorded over a period of 11 years. The structure of the data set allows us to use individual fixed-effect estimations to control for aspects such as innate ability as well as other characteristics of the players. Most notably, the data contains an objective measure of individual playing strength, the so-called Elo rating. In line with previous research, we find that women are more risk-averse than men. A novel finding is that males choose more aggressive strategies when playing against female opponents even though such strategies reduce their winning probability.

Men have the perfect excuse, from a responder to a blog by Andrew Sullivan:

SGGoauldHuman There is good evidence that Toxoplasma gondii — the parasite often found in cat feces that poses a risk to human fetuses — spreads by affecting the behavior of its rodent hosts. Infected rodents show decreased fear-responses to cats, which is thought to increase the likelihood that the cats will then eat the rodents, allowing the protozoa to complete the next phase of their reproductive cycle in a feline host.

Your reader wrote, "Can you image something like that in humans?  Scary."  There is a growing body of evidence, which is somewhat controversial, that toxoplasmosis may induce behavioral alterations in infected humans as well.

Will power is an illusion, God is in the pudding—in our gut.


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