Dopamine and Risk Choices in Different Domains: Findings Among Serious Tournament Bridge Players

37 Pages Posted: 6 Jul 2010 Last revised: 25 May 2011

See all articles by Anna Dreber

Anna Dreber

Stockholm School of Economics - Department of Economics

David G. Rand

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Nils Wernerfelt

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Justin R. Garcia

Binghamton University - Laboratory of Evolutionary Anthropology and Health

J. Koji Lum

Binghamton University - Laboratory of Evolutionary Anthropology and Health

Miguel G. Vilar

Binghamton University - Laboratory of Evolutionary Anthropology and Health

Richard J. Zeckhauser

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: May 20, 2011

Abstract

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.

Keywords: Risk preferences, Dopamine, Risk taking, Contract bridge, Risk perception, Advantageous risks, DRD4

JEL Classification: C91, C93, D03, D81, D87, G0

Suggested Citation

Dreber, Anna and Rand, David G. and Wernerfelt, Nils and Garcia, Justin R. and Lum, J. Koji and Vilar, Miguel G. and Zeckhauser, Richard J., Dopamine and Risk Choices in Different Domains: Findings Among Serious Tournament Bridge Players (May 20, 2011). Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1635331

Anna Dreber

Stockholm School of Economics - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 6501
Sveavagen 65
S-113 83 Stockholm
Sweden

David G. Rand

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
50 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.daverand.org

Nils Wernerfelt

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Justin R. Garcia

Binghamton University - Laboratory of Evolutionary Anthropology and Health ( email )

Departments of Biological Sciences & Anthropology
Binghamton, NY 13902
United States

J. Koji Lum

Binghamton University - Laboratory of Evolutionary Anthropology and Health ( email )

Departments of Biological Sciences & Anthropology
Binghamton, NY 13902
United States

Miguel G. Vilar

Binghamton University - Laboratory of Evolutionary Anthropology and Health ( email )

Departments of Biological Sciences & Anthropology
Binghamton, NY 13902
United States

Richard J. Zeckhauser (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-1174 (Phone)
617-384-9340 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-1174 (Phone)
617-496-3783 (Fax)

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