Life financial outcomes carry a significant heritable component, but the mechanisms by which genes influence financial choices remain unclear. Focusing on a polymorphism in the promoter region of the serotonin transporter gene (5-HTTLPR), we found that individuals possessing the short allele of this gene invested less in equities, were less engaged in actively making investment decisions, and had fewer credit lines. Short allele carriers also showed higher levels of the personality trait neuroticism, despite not differing from others with respect to cognitive skills, education, or wealth. Mediation analysis suggested that the presence of the 5-HTTLPR short allele decreased real life measures of financial risk taking through its influence on neuroticism. These findings show that 5-HTTLPR short allele carriers avoid risky and complex financial choices due to negative emotional reactions, and have implications for understanding and managing individual differences in financial choice.
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