A neuroeconomic investigation of 5-HTT/5-HT1A gene variation, social anxiety, and risk-taking behavior

Caitlin A. Stamatis, Jan B. Engelmann, Christiane Ziegler, Katharina Domschke, Gregor Hasler, Kiara R. Timpano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background and objectives: Although approaches combining behavioral genetics and neuroeconomics have advanced models of addiction, no study has synthesized these methods to elucidate mechanisms of competing risk-approachand risk-avoidance in social anxiety (SA). Grounded in dual-mode models of serotonergic systems and self-regulation, this study investigated associations between SA, serotonin transporter 5-HTT (LPR; rs25531) and receptor 5-HT1A genes, and risk-taking on behavioral and self-report measures. Design and methods: Young adults (N = 309) completed a neuroeconomic task measuring gambling attractiveness (δ), reward probability discrimination (γ), and risk attitudes (α). Risk genotypes included 5-HTT (LPR; rs25531) low-expression variants (SS/SLG/LGLG), and 5-HT1A (rs6295) GG. Results: Path analysis revealed that SA related to increased gambling attractiveness, but only for 5-HT1A risk groups. Although the 5-HTT (LPR; rs25531) risk genotypes and self-reported SA predicted lower social risk-taking, high-SA individuals who exhibited more accurate reward probability discrimination (γ) reported taking increased social risks. Conclusion: In line with dual-mode models, results suggest that SA predicts behavioral risk-approach at the basic decision-making level, along with self-reported social risk-avoidance, modulated by serotonergic genotypes. High-SA individuals with more accurate assessments of reward probabilities may engage in greater social risk-taking, perhaps reflecting an adaptive tendency to approach feared situations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)176-192
Number of pages17
JournalAnxiety, Stress and Coping
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 3 2020


  • 5-HT1A
  • 5-HTT (LPR; rs25531)
  • Social anxiety
  • decision-making
  • neuroeconomics
  • risk-taking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'A neuroeconomic investigation of 5-HTT/5-HT1A gene variation, social anxiety, and risk-taking behavior'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this