Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Alpha Males Take Greater Risks: Study Links Finger Length to Behavior


Potential investors might wish to examine the fingers of their financial advisor prior to signing over any savings. A new study from Concordia University has found the length between the second and fourth finger is an indicator of high levels of prenatal testosterone, risk-taking and potential financial success in men.

The findings, published in the journal of Personality and Individual Differences, suggest that alpha males may take greater risks in relationships, on the squash court and in the financial market.

"Previous studies have linked high testosterone levels with risky behaviour and financial success," says senior researcher Gad Saad, Concordia University Research Chair in Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences and Darwinian Consumption as well as a marketing professor at the John Molson School of Business. "We investigated the relationship between prenatal testosterone and various risk proclivities. Our findings show an association between high testosterone and risk-taking among males in three domains: recreational, social and financial."

"Since women tend to be attracted to men who are fit, assertive and rich, men are apt to take risks with sports, people and money to be attractive to potential mates. What's interesting is that this tendency is influenced by testosterone exposure -- more testosterone in the womb can lead to more risks in the rink, the bar and the trading floor in later in life," says first author and Concordia doctoral student, Eric Stenstrom.

Link only observed in men

Saad and his team analyzed risk-taking among 413 male and female students using a survey. "Prenatal testosterone exposure not only influences fetal brain development," adds study co-author and graduate student, Zack Mendenhall, "but it also slows the growth of the index finger relative to the sum of the four fingers excluding the thumb."

The change in finger length produced by testosterone provides a handy measure of prenatal testosterone exposure. The study compared the length of the index finger with all four digits (known as the rel2 ratio) and found that those with lower ratios were more likely to engage in risk-taking. These findings were further confirmed by the additional measurement of the ratio between the index and ring finger. These correlations were only observed in men.

"A possible explanation for the null effects in women is that they do not engage in risky behaviour as a mating signal, whereas men do," says Professor Saad.

High Level of Practical Intelligence a Factor in Entrepreneurial Success


General intelligence is not enough. Practical intelligence can mean the difference between entrepreneurial success or failure.

Psychologists have identified multiple kinds of intelligence, but a University of Maryland researcher's study has found one--practical intelligence--to be an indicator of likely entrepreneurial success.

J. Robert Baum, Director of Entrepreneurship Research at the University of Maryland, defines practical intelligence as "an experience based accumulation of skills and explicit knowledge as well as the ability to apply that knowledge to solve every day problems," he said. In other words, practical intelligence can be referred to as "know-how" or common sense.

Learning orientation has an impact on entrepreneurship success. Some people learn little from their experiences and therefore don't acquire the practical intelligence necessary to begin a successful business venture, said Baum. Practical intelligence is the result of an experimental hands-on operating style that leads to specific learning. "Those with high practical intelligence tend to develop useful knowledge by doing and learning, not by watching or reading," he said.

People with strong general intelligence sometimes fail at business. Conversely, there are plenty of examples of those with comparatively lower IQs who are successful in business. Practical intelligence helps explain this surprising phenomenon, says Baum.

To determine how practical intelligence impacted entrepreneurs' success, Baum and his fellow researchers, Barbara Jean Bird of American University and Sheetah Singh of the University of Maryland, sought evidence that the interaction of entrepreneurs' practical intelligence and growth goals led to increased venture success.

In other words, can practical intelligence explain why some are successful and others are not? Yes, to some degree, it can, he said.

In fact, the model of practical intelligence interacting with growth goals successfully predicted venture increase in sales and employment 27 percent of the time.

Comparing responses to a set of business scenarios from founders of newly started businesses and founder/CEO's of successful and established printing companies, they were able to identify those founders with different levels of practical intelligence.

"If there was little difference in the comparative answers, the newcomer was considered to have high practical intelligence. A wide variance of answers indicated low practical intelligence," Baum said.

There are many kinds of intelligence, including emotional, social and creative. Practical intelligence is just one; but a critical one for entrepreneurial success, said Baum.

The study will be published in an upcoming issue of Personnel Psychology.

Other factors needed for entrepreneurial success include a demand for the product from customers that will result in a profit, having financial resources, industry experience and a strategic plan that includes specific goals.

Baum also said personal characteristics are important as well in venture creation and growth.

For example, entrepreneurs typically have confidence in what they are undertaking and have the ability to make quick decisions and take action. They are also willing to use their knowledge or what they have learned to experiment and try new approaches to improve the process or product.

Practical intelligence is gained by learning from past experiences and using that knowledge to enhance the enterprise, said Baum.

"A person with high practical intelligence who starts and grows a company in a specific industry and who has specific experience and has learned specific things from that experience and who has specific venture growth goals will grow their company faster and more successfully that someone who does not have the same level of practical intelligence," said Baum.

Monday, November 22, 2010

NVCA Commends Makower Study on the FDA Impact on Med Tech Innovation

Contact: Emily Mendell, NVCA. 610-565-3904,

Today the National Venture Capital Association commended the release of a new study led by professor and entrepreneur, Dr.Josh Makower, entitled "FDA Impact on U.S. Medical Technology Innovation."

The study, which was the first of its kind and conducted with support from the NVCA and the Medical Device Manufacturers Association (MDMA), surveyed more than 200 medical technology company CEOs regarding their experiences with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval process for new medical technologies. The study found that inefficiencies at the FDA have led to U.S. medical technologies being available in Europe on average two years sooner than in the United States.

NVCA President Mark Heesen stressed the importance of the study to U.S. patients and
the economy while committing to continue working with the FDA on improving the
approval pathway:

“This study quantifies, in no uncertain terms, the challenge that small medical
device companies have when seeking approval for their products in the United States,”
said Heesen. “The current approval path is paved with inefficiency and uncertainty for
our most important innovators, compelling them to launch their medical breakthroughs
overseas years before offering them here in the U.S. Not only does this environment hurt American patients who would benefit from these innovations sooner rather than later, but it also hurts our entire health care system and the economy. We feel strongly that there are meaningful changes that can be made at the FDA which would improve efficiency and transparency without compromising on safety. We will continue working with the FDA to explore these remedies and feel confident that officials are committed to long term solutions that will help advance important medical breakthroughs in this country.”

About NVCA

The National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) represents more than 400 venture
capital firms in the United States. NVCA's mission is to foster greater understanding of
the importance of venture capital to the U.S. economy and support entrepreneurial
activity and innovation. According to a 2008 Global Insight study, venture-backed
companies accounted for 12.1 million jobs and $2.9 trillion in revenue in the United
States in 2008. The NVCA represents the public policy interests of the venture capital
community, strives to maintain high professional standards, provides reliable industry
data, sponsors professional development, and facilitates interaction among its members.

The Medical Device Manufacturers Association (MDMA) also applauded the efforts by one of America’s leading med-tech entrepreneurs, Dr. Josh Makower, to examine the impact of the current regulatory environment on medical device innovation. Dr. Makower led a study that details how patients in Europe are getting access to new therapies an average of two years before patients in the United States due to regulatory challenges at the FDA.

MDMA President and CEO Mark Leahey noted the importance of working together to protect America’s leadership position in medical technology:

“This powerful study provides compelling evidence of what we have been hearing for years at MDMA: the current regulatory environment is adversely impacting innovation, patient care and job-creation here in the United States. We must all work together to ensure that the FDA’s dual mission to protect and promote the public health maintains a balance that supports innovation and improves the lives of patients.

MDMA members who participated in this study are at the forefront of developing new products to improve our quality of life. They are the small and mid-sized companies that are helping to turn around this economy, and ignite the entrepreneurial spirit that makes the United States so unique. It is critical to support their efforts to develop tomorrow’s medical advancements, and that American patients and workers are the beneficiaries of American innovation.”