HKS Authors

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We explore how risk-taking in the card game contract bridge, and in a financial gamble, correlate with variation in the dopamine receptor D4 gene (DRD4) among serious tournament bridge players. In bridge risk-taking, we find significant interactions between genetic predisposition and skill. Among men with the 7-repeat allele of DRD4, namely 7R?+ men, those with more bridge skill take more good risks and fewer bad risks, while the opposite is found for less-expert 7R?+ men. Conversely, skill does not predict risk-taking among men without the 7R?+ allele. Consistent with some prior studies, we also find that 7R?+ men take more risk in the financial gamble. We find no relationship between 7R?+ and either risk measure among our female subjects. Our results suggest that the dopamine system plays an important role in individual differences in risk-taking among men, and is the first to distinguish between advantageous and disadvantageous risk-taking.


Dreber, Anna, David G. Rand, Nils Wernerfelt, Justin R. Garcia, Miguel G. Vilar, J. Koji Lum, and Richard Zeckhauser. "Dopamine and Risk Choices in Different Domains: Findings Among Serious Tournament Bridge Players." Journal of Risk and Uncertainty 43.1 (2011): 19-38.