Michigan State University researchers studied the evolution of risk aversion and found that it is in our nature  traced back to the earliest humans to take the safe bet when stakes are high, such as whether or not we will mate.
"Primitive humans were likely forced to bet on whether or not they could find a better mate," said Chris Adami, MSU professor of microbiology and molecular genetics and co-author of the paper.
"They could either choose to mate with the first, potentially inferior, companion and risk inferior offspring, or they could wait for Mr or Ms Perfect to come around," he said. "If they chose to wait, they risk never mating," he added.

Adami and his co-author Arend Hintze, MSU research associate, used a computational model to trace risk-taking behaviours through thousands of generations of evolution with digital organisms.
"An individual might hold out to find the perfect mate but run the risk of coming up empty and leaving no progeny. Settling early for the sure bet gives you an evolutionary advantage, if living in a small group," Adami said.
Researchers found that how risk averse we are correlates to the size of the group in which we were raised. "We found that it is really the group size, not the total population size, which matters in the evolution of risk
aversion," Hintze said.
However, not everyone develops the same level of aversion to risk. The study also found that evolution doesn't prefer one single, optimal way of dealing with risk, but instead allows for a range of less, and sometimes more-risky, behaviours to evolve.
The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.


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