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According To Study, Your Cat's Poop Makes You Better At Business

According To Study, Your Cat's Poop Makes You Better At Business

Want to make it in this dog-eat-dog business world, youngster? Want to take the bull by the horns and turn yourself into a millionaire? Step one is easy: get some cat poop.

A study, published this Wednesday, July 25 in the scientific journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, drew a connection between a parasite found in cat feces with entrepreneurial behavior in test subjects.

The parasite is fairly common—of the 1,495 undergraduate students (who were selected from biology and business classes), 22% tested positive.

It's called Toxoplasma gondii, and test subjects who had contracted it were "1.4 times more likely to be a business major." What's more, "students who tested positive were 1.7 times more likely to be focusing on management and entrepreneurship."

T. gondii can be contracted though consumption of "undercooked, contaminated meat or drink contaminated water," and, of course, through contact with cat feces. So it's probably cat feces most of the time, right?

Stefanie Johnson, lead author of the study and an associate professor of management at the University of Colorado Boulder's Leeds School of Business, spoke of the newfound correlation between the parasite and hieghtened business interests in a press release:

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. New ventures have high failure rates, so a fear of failure is quite rational. T.gondii might just reduce that rational fear.

When running tests at business conferences and when comparing the data to public health and entrepreneurship records of different countries, the data alway seemed to indicate a positive correlation between presence of the parasite and business-minded behavior. At the same time, there was a negative correlation between the parasite and people being discouraged to start a business due to "fear of failure."

It's hard to believe a chance encounter with a fairly harmless parasite can influence major parts of a person's personality, but Johnson's team is researching just that. After finishing their work on this topic, they plan to look into any possible links between toxoplasmosis and political conservatism. She also wants to know if the presence of the parasite has any bearing on whether the resulting businesses are successful:

So what if all the businesses started by toxoplasma-positive people fail? What if that fear was a good thing? We want to know.

Meanwhile, research on other parasite that influence human behavior is ongoing, and several otherwise harmless organisms may have quite the impact on how humans act. According to Business Insider:

Chlorovirus ATCV-1, a virus typically found in green algae in lakes and rivers, may affect people's cognition: infected people seem to have shorter attention spans and are slower to complete tasks like drawing a line that connects a sequence of numbers.

Scientists have also suggested links between parasites like Bacteroides and Prevotella and increased levels of "anxiety and irritability."

Ultimately, however, it's too early to start exposing yourself to cat feces in the hopes of becoming a better business-person. All of these studies suggest positive correlations between T. gondii and entrepreneurial behavior but, as any good science teacher would say, correlation does not equal causation. T. gondii MAY cause different behaviors in humans, or perhaps both T. gondii and a zest for business are caused by a third factor which is, as of yet, unknown. Only time and further study will tell.

H/T - Business Insider, Proceedings of the Royal Society B