RISK-TAKERS and gamblers are more likely to vote Yes in the independence referendum, a major academic study has found.

The study, headed by Professor David Bell of Stirling University, found a clear link between people's willingness to take risks in life and their support for independence.

The findings, to be presented at a seminar in Edinburgh tomorrow, partly explain why men are significantly more likely to back a Yes vote than women, the academic said.

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The research was based on a survey by pollsters YouGov of 2000 people late last year. It is part of an ongoing programme of studies about the referendum supported by the politically neutral Economic and Social Research Council.

Professor Bell used a series of questions to identify people's willingness to take risks. Answers were cross-referenced with their referendum voting intentions.

Mr Bell said: "It emerged it is those willing to take risks who are more likely to vote Yes. It is perfectly logical and this partly explains the difference between men and women [in supporting independence]."

In the survey women saw themselves as less willing to take risks, on average, than men. The findings are likely to be seized upon by the pro-UK campaign, which has said the SNP's plans for independence include a number of uncertainties.

The No campaign has argued there are no guarantees over the currency of an independent Scotland or the terms for it to join the European Union.

The findings are also likely to prompt wider discussion of gender differences. The gap between men and women in terms of support for independence has long been recognised.

Social researcher Rachel Ormston found that in 19 opinion polls conducted between the start of the year and the middle of last month, women were on average 13 percentage points less likely than men to vote Yes.