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Testosterone levels in the womb affect your likelihood of becoming an entrepreneur

Baby in womb
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In the unending debate of Nature versus Nurture, new research puts forward an argument for nature.

Higher levels of testosterone in the womb are associated with higher likelihood of becoming an entrepreneur, according to new research from Villanova School of Business Professor Dr. Pankaj Patel.

Testosterone levels can be affected by social, economic, and biological factors in an individual's life. To eliminate such variables, Patel studied twins in utero. In particular, he compared opposite-sex and same-sex twins. Twin boys will have less testosterone because they must share.

Based on Patel's research of twins, males who had higher levels of testosterone available to them in the womb are more likely to go on to be self-employed.

They are also more likely to play full contact sports like rugby or football and to work in financial services careers. In general, more testosterone is associated with lower levels of risk aversion, so people with more testosterone may take more risks.

If you are wondering whether you were exposed to higher or lower levels of testosterone when you were in the womb, Patel offers a quick way to find out. If your ring finger is longer than your index finger, you were exposed to higher levels of testosterone, and apparently you may have a higher likelihood of becoming an entrepreneur.

Biology isn't destiny, and the ability to become an entrepreneur, let alone a successful one, is multifaceted and depends on countless intangible factors. But research into what the study calls "the biological basis of business behavior" can be illuminating.

"Prenatal testosterone exposure or biological 'luck' in gestating with a male or female twin is associated with self employment," the study says. "Our results represent an important first step into uncovering how key biological influences (e.g. testosterone levels) are related to self-employment and entrepreneurial activities. The biological basis of business behavior could contribute further to management research."

For the research, Patel studied data from more than 2,500 individuals in addition to analyzing data from the Centers for Disease Control's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the National Survey of Midlife Development, and the UK Household Longitudinal Study.