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Recent Business School Study Links Financial Crisis to Hormones

Our nation's current deficit may be due to a number of factors, but what do hormones have to do with anything? Potentially a lot. A recent study of prestigious Chicago area business schools suggests that testosterone levels have a major impact on a person's predisposition toward taking risks.

The study in question was published today in the academic journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and was also covered in the blog pages of the Wall Street Journal. The study reached its findings by analyzing the saliva of students pursuing MBA degrees at University of Chicago's Booth School of Business and putting said students through "certain games." In a pool of 500 students, the study determined that men were "willing to take greater risks than women." The difference? Testosterone, concludes the study. Biased, you say? The researchers also found that female students with higher testosterone levels were willing to take more risks than their more estrogen-heavy counterparts. In short, according to study co-author Paola Sapienza, "we are saying that testosterone, which is a biological marker, rather then gender, makes them take more risks."

There are some flaws in the theory -- the most important being, reportedly, that the study was done in 2006 when business was good and risk-taking was en vogue, meaning that a similar test would likely yield wildly different results today -- but the results are interesting nonetheless and, according to the blog, not that surprising. After all, it states: "Just look all the male executives who loaded up on subprime mortgages or who bulked up the risk on auction-rate securities, bringing that market briefly to a halt." Or the most illustrative mention of all: the cast and crew of MTV's Jackass. 100% risk and danger, and testosterone to the hilt.

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