Believe it or not, cat poop may have a hand in helping you launch your new business. Well, more specifically, a parasite found in cat poop.
Yes, you read that right.
Researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder looked at the prevalence of the parasite Toxoplasma gondii in 1,495 undergraduate students.
After collecting saliva samples from the participants, the researchers found that T. gondii-positive individuals were 1.4 times more likely to major in business and 1.7 times more likely to have an emphasis in ‘management and entrepreneurship’ over other business-related emphases.
In addition, when the researchers carried out a survey of 197 adult professionals attending entrepreneurship events, they found that T. gondii-positive individuals were 1.8 times more likely to have started their own business compared with other attendees.
There are more people infected with T. gondii than we think – an estimated 2 billion people worldwide. Most people don’t even know they are infected with the parasite as there are often not any obvious symptoms.
However, previous studies have shown that it growing evidence suggests that T. gondii may influence behavior, such as more impulsive behaviors, an increased risk of car accidents, road rage, mental illness, neuroticism, drug abuse, and even suicide.
The team also looked at national statistics from 42 countries over the past 25 years and found that nations with a higher infection rate also had a lower level of respondents report a “fear of failure” as a deterrent to a new business venture.
However, researchers say that T. gondii is not responsible for whether a business will actually succeed (it can’t do all the work). “We can see the association in terms of the number of businesses and the intent of participants, but we don’t know if the businesses started by T.gondii-positive individuals are more likely to succeed or fail in the long run,” said Stefanie K. Johnson, lead author of the study.
So to be clear, if you want to start a new venture, don’t go out and touch cat poop. In fact, we’d advise the opposite as toxoplasmosis is bad news for the pregnant or immuno-compromised.
“New ventures have high failure rates, so a fear of failure is quite rational. T.gondii might just reduce that rational fear.” The team did stress importantly that the study is correlational, rather than causal, and that some individuals could already be predisposed to high-risk behavior and therefore be both entrepreneurial in their attitudes and exposed to T. gondii through animal contact.
However, they also added that the findings do highlight the link between parasitic infection and complex human behaviours. “As humans, we like to think that we are in control of our actions,” said Pieter Johnson, the co-lead author of the study, “But emerging research shows that the microorganisms we encounter in our daily lives have the potential to influence their hosts in significant ways.”
Who knew cat poop could be so influential?