A multigenic indicator that was modelled in the multidisciplinary study was able to explain just under 2% of the variability of risk tolerance at population level. The study found that 124 changes in genes are associated with a willingness to take risks as well as other manifestations of risk behaviour, such as smoking, alcohol consumption, and making risky investments.
Environmental factors and non-genetic factors explain a greater part of the phenomenon studied.
The study also found a clear link between regulation of brain activity and risk measurements. The finding endorses the opinion that the genetic and biological background associated with risk behaviour is highly multidimensional and there is no single explanation. This raises interesting questions for further research on the interaction between environmental factors and risk behaviour.
The study combined genetic information related to risk attitudes and risk behaviours among more than one million people. This is the most extensive genetic research on risk behaviours so far and it has been published in the prestigious Nature Genetics magazine.
The study was carried out by the Social Science Genetic Association Consortium (SSGAC), a consortium of social science genetics researchers, with a total of 100 birth cohorts from around the world. The SSGAC studies the impact of genetics on human behaviour, well-being, and socially interesting phenomena through extensive data.
The data has been collected from the UK Biobank, genomics company 23andMe, and ten national cohorts, including the Northern Finland Birth Cohort of 1966 (NFBC) and cohorts from Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, Scotland, United Kingdom and the United States.
69 researchers from different cohorts are involved in the research. The University of Oulu was represented in the study by Professor Rauli Svento and university researcher Andrew Conlin from Oulu Business School, as well as Minna Ruddock (née Männikkö), Research Director of the Northern Finland Birth Cohort and biostatistician Ville Karhunen from the Faculty of Medicine, who all participated in the research.
Last updated: 17.1.2019