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Here we tested the hypothesis that entrepreneurs' emotional experience and brain responses toward their own firm resemble those of parents toward their own children. Using fMRI, we measured the brain activity while male entrepreneurs viewed pictures of their own and of a familiar firm, and while fathers viewed pictures of their own and of a familiar child. The entrepreneurs who self-rated as being very closely attached with their venture showed a similar suppression of activity in the posterior cingulate cortex, temporoparietal junction, and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex as fathers during viewing pictures of their own children versus familiar children. In addition, individual differences in the confidence trait influenced the neural encoding of both paternal and entrepreneurial processing. For underconfident fathers, a picture of one's own child was associated with stronger activation and for overconfident fathers with weaker activation in the amygdala and in caudate nucleus, a brain structure associated with processing of rewards. Similar association with activation, yet more widespread in the emotional processing network, was observed in entrepreneurs suggesting a similar neural basis for increased sensitivity to threats and potential risks concerning one's venture and child. In conclusion, both entrepreneurial and parental love seem to be supported by brain structures associated with reward and emotional processing as well as social understanding. Hum Brain Mapp, 2017.
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Entrepreneurial and Parental Love—Are
They the Same?
Marja-Liisa Halko ,
1,2,3
*Tom Lahti,
4
Kaisa Hyt
onen,
5,6
and
Iiro P. J
a
askel
ainen
7
1
HECER/Department of Political and Economic Studies, University of Helsinki, Finland
2
Department of Economics, Aalto University School of Business, Finland
3
AMI Centre, School of Science, Aalto University, Finland
4
Hanken School of Economics, Finland
5
Brain Research Unit, O.V. Lounasmaa Laboratory, Aalto University School of Science, Finland
6
Laurea University of Applied Sciences, Finland
7
Department of Biomedical Engineering and Computational Science,
Aalto University School of Science, Finland
r r
Abstract: Here we tested the hypothesis that entrepreneurs’ emotional experience and brain responses
toward their own firm resemble those of parents toward their own children. Using fMRI, we measured
the brain activity while male entrepreneurs viewed pictures of their own and of a familiar firm, and while
fathers viewed pictures of their own and of a familiar child. The entrepreneurs who self-rated as being
very closely attached with their venture showed a similar suppression of activity in the posterior cingulate
cortex, temporoparietal junction, and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex as fathers during viewing pictures of
their own children versus familiar children. In addition, individual differences in the confidence trait
influenced the neural encoding of both paternal and entrepreneurial processing. For underconfident
fathers, a picture of one’s own child was associated with stronger activation and for overconfident fathers
with weaker activation in the amygdala and in caudate nucleus, a brain structure associated with process-
ing of rewards. Similar association with activation, yet more widespread in the emotional processing net-
work, was observed in entrepreneurs suggesting a similar neural basis for increased sensitivity to threats
and potential risks concerning one’s venture and child. In conclusion, both entrepreneurial and parental
love seem to be supported by brain structures associated with reward and emotional processing as well as
social understanding. Hum Brain Mapp 38:2923–2938, 2017.V
C2017 The Authors Human Brain Mapping Published by
Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Key words: affect; entrepreneurship; functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI); behavior
r r
Additional Supporting Information may be found in the online
version of this article.
Contract grant sponsors: aivoAALTO (Aalto University, Finland),
Yrj
o Jahnsson Foundation, and Research Foundation of Coopera-
tive Banks, Finland.
This study was performed at the Aalto University.
*Correspondence to: Marja-Liisa Halko; University of Helsinki,
Department of Political and Economic Studies/HECER, P.O. Box
17, 00014 Helsinki, Finland. E-mail: marja-liisa.halko@helsinki.fi
Received for publication 24 August 2016; Revised 7 February
2017; Accepted 28 February 2017.
DOI: 10.1002/hbm.23562
Published online 13 March 2017 in Wiley Online Library
(wileyonlinelibrary.com).
rHuman Brain Mapping 38:2923–2938 (2017) r
V
C2017 The Authors Human Brain Mapping Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which per-
mits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifica-
tions or adaptations are made.
INTRODUCTION
Entrepreneurship has major economic value; it substan-
tially contributes to employment, innovation, productivity,
and economic growth [Van Praag and Versloot, 2007; Carree
and Thruik, 2010]. Emotional attachment entrepreneurs cre-
ate to their new ventures is integral in sustaining entrepre-
neurial efforts for long periods of time [Shane et al., 2003]. In
addition, emotions entrepreneurs experience have an influ-
ence on new venture creation, growth, and performance
[Baum and Locke, 2004; Baron, 2008]. Previous studies have
examined how entrepreneurs experience emotions such as
grief [e.g., Shepherd et al., 2009], fear [e.g., Foo, 2011], and
passion [Cardon et al., 2009; Murnieks et al., 2014] toward
their own venture. By inspiring individuals and motivating
them to persist in the face of difficulties, entrepreneurial pas-
sion strongly impacts on the positive outcomes of the ven-
ture creation process [Cardon et al., 2005, Cardon and Kirk,
2015; Murnieks et al., 2014]. It also has a positive relationship
with funding potential [Chen et al., 2009; Mitteness et al.,
2012] and venture growth [Baum et al. 2001]. While aiming
to create something remarkable, passionate entrepreneurs
exert a high impact on the society [Ma and Tan, 2006].
In the postemergence stage—the time period that starts
from a firm’s establishment—entrepreneur’s emotional
experience toward the venture has been suggested to
resemble parental love [Mirabella, 1993; Shankland, 2000;
Cardon et al., 2005]. An entrepreneur’s experienced close-
ness to the venture increases with its formation and has
been expected to be like the intimate and committed rela-
tion between a parent and a child [e.g., Shaver and Miku-
lincer, 2006]. Similar to parents do for their children,
entrepreneurs make altruistic and sacrificing acts for their
ventures and frequently put the ventures’ needs ahead of
their own needs [Cardon et al., 2005]. Such a relationship
of attachment is found particularly in the early stages of
postemergence, as the venture’s dependence on the entre-
preneur wanes at maturity as growth saturates [Cardon
et al., 2005].
In the pre-emergence stage, that entails opportunity-
recognition and venture-formation activities, an entrepre-
neur’s emotional attachment to a venture can often be
described as anxious-ambivalent: passion, that reflects a
drive and motivational energy, is intensified but intimacy
and commitment manifest at a considerably lesser
intensity [Hazan and Shaver, 1987]. Compared with earlier
developmental stages, entrepreneur’s emotional experience
in the postemergence stage is increasingly self-regulated
[Carver and Scheier, 1998; Gross, 1999] and reflects a more
balanced manifestation of intimacy, passion, and commit-
ment—the three elements of love [Sternberg, 1986, 1997].
The triangular theory of love suggests that parental love is
reflected in a balanced manifestation of the three love
components, and, for entrepreneurial love to be akin to
paternal love, a similar balanced manifestation should be
witnessed in entrepreneurs’ evaluation of the strength of
the components.
In this study, we compare the neural basis of entrepre-
neurial attachment with the neural basis of parental attach-
ment. Love can be conceptualized as a “peak experience”
that is an intense, beyond ordinary, emotion [Acevedo and
Aron, 2009]. Schindehutte et al. [2006] found that peak
experiences are particularly associated with high growth
ventures, and therefore we focused on entrepreneurs that
expected the annual growth of their firm to exceed 20% in
the 3 years following the experiment. Focusing on entre-
preneurs with growth orientation naturally limited our
subject pool. There is plenty of research showing that the
ventures of female entrepreneurs are less likely to grow,
and that they are less likely to seek growth than their
male counterparts [Autio and Pathak, 2010; Fairlie and
Robb, 2009; Orser and Hogarth-Scott, 2002; Rosa et al.,
1996]. Therefore, we made the decision of studying only
male entrepreneurs and fathers.
Entrepreneurs’ relationship with their firm is often char-
acterized by unrealistic expectations that often cannot be
met. Similarly, parents create idealistic images of their
children and put their child on an unachievable pedestal
[Cardon et al., 2005]. Here we hypothesize that confidence
is related with attachment relationships of entrepreneurs
and ventures as well as fathers and their children. We
base our hypothesis on the observations that, on the one
hand, overconfidence is typical for entrepreneurs and
explains entry to entrepreneurship [e.g., Cooper et al.
1988; Hyytinen et al. 2014; Cain et al., 2015], and, on the
other hand, overconfidence is more characteristic of men
than of women [e.g., Barber and Odean, 2001]. The entre-
preneur’s optimistic view of his venture is also likely to
reflect the belief that their own abilities are better than
that of average entrepreneurs [e.g., Hayward et al. 2006;
Hyytinen et al. 2014]. In this study, we measure overconfi-
dence as a difference between individual’s confidence
in his judgment and the accuracy of those judgments
[e.g., Fischhoff et al. 1977].
Based on the literature on entrepreneurship, we hypoth-
esize that an entrepreneur’s emotional attachments to his
new venture is comparable to attachments that are formed
between a parent and a child. In the fMRI experiment,
entrepreneurs viewed pictures of their own firm and of a
familiar firm, and fathers viewed pictures of their own
child/children and pictures of a familiar child/children.
Viewing pictures of one’s own child versus a familiar
child has been associated with differential activation in
brain regions that are linked to motivation and reward
(striatum, including caudate nucleus), social cognition and
mentalizing (posterior superior temporal sulcus (STS), ven-
tromedial prefrontal cortex, temporal poles, anterior cingu-
late cortex, insula, inferior parietal lobule, dorsomedial
prefrontal cortex, and inferior frontal gyrus), and emotion
processing (amygdala, ventral anterior cingulate cortex,
insula) [Abraham et al., 2014; Atzil et al., 2012; Bartels and
Zeki, 2004; Leibenluft et al., 2004]. Although the majority
of these studies have been conducted with mothers as
rHalko et al. r
r2924 r
subjects, recent studies comparing mothering and father-
ing have in general found similar neural basis and syn-
chronous brain activation for both groups. In particular,
high activation of STS and amygdala has been associated
with parenting, both with mothers and fathers, and high
STS activation especially with fathers [Abraham et al.,
2014]. Two other areas in the emotional processing net-
work, namely the middle insula and the ventral anterior
cingulate cortex (vACC), are also relevant for parental love
and caregiving [Abraham et al., 2014; Bartels and Zeki,
2004]. In addition, fathers’ faces elicited activity in the cau-
date nucleus in a study of adult children viewing pictures
of their parents [Arsalidou et al., 2010].
Based on the literature on the neural basis of paternal
love, we hypothesize that the neuronal activations relating
especially to reward, motivation and affective experiences
are salient and similar between the two groups. As a paren-
t–child relationship is to a large extent social by nature and
an entrepreneur–firm relationship is more unidirectional,
we expected to find differential activation patterns in brain
regions related to social cognition.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Participants
Altogether, 42 healthy subjects participated in the fMRI
study: 21 entrepreneurs (all male, mean age 33 years, range
24–45) and 21 fathers (mean age 35 years, range 27–43). The
average “age” of the entrepreneurs’ companies was 4.5 years
(range 0–11), and the average age of the fathers’ first child
was 5.6 years (range 1–10). The entrepreneurs thus had
slightly shorter experience in entrepreneurship than the
fathers in parenthood, but the difference is not statistically
significant (two-sided ttest, P50.20). On average, partici-
pants had completed 15 years of education (SD 52.45), and
there were no significant differences between the groups.
Participants were recruited by spreading ads through
entrepreneurial organizations (entrepreneurs) and through
the day-care centers of the city of Helsinki (fathers). Interest-
ed individuals signed up through a web site, after which the
subjects who fulfilled the eligibility criteria (entrepreneurs:
growth orientation, not serial entrepreneur; fathers: no
entrepreneurial background) were screened by phone for
fMRI contraindications. All subjects were compensated for
their travel cost and they signed informed consent forms.
The Ethics Committee of the Aalto University approved the
study protocol, and the study was conducted in accordance
with the Helsinki Declaration.
Behavioral Measures and Task
The experiment consisted of two separate sessions. Before
the first session, subjects were asked to select and send us
2–4 pictures of their own firm/child and of another firm/
child familiar to them (the pictures of the firms depicted
business idea, logo, product or key personnel). To avoid pos-
sible antagonistic reactions to a familiar firm, the entrepre-
neurs were asked not to select pictures of their direct
competitors. The subjects filled out questionnaires on affect
intensity [the 40 items Affect Intensity Measure, AIM, ques-
tionnaire, Larsen, 1984], sense of closeness of the relation-
ship between the father and his child and between the
entrepreneur and his venture (the Inclusion of Other in the
Self, IOS, scale, Aron et al. [1992]), optimism (the 10 items
LOT-R questionnaire [Scheier et al., 1994]), confidence [e.g.,
Fischhoff et al., 1977], and socioeconomic and entrepreneur-
ship/parenthood background.
1
The 40 items of the AIM describe emotional reactions to
typical situations in life, like “When I am excited over some-
thing I want to share my feelings with everyone,” or “When
I do something wrong, I have strong feelings of shame and
guilt.” Subjects rated whether they react to those situations
as described, and the scale was from 1 to 6, 1 5never,
35sometimes, 6 5always. The IOS scale is a graphical mea-
sure that consists of seven pairs of differentially overlapping
circles, and the participants were asked to select the pair that
best describes their relationship with their firm/child (see
Supporting Information). The 10-item LOT-R is a measure of
optimism versus pessimism and consists of statements like
“I rarely count on good things happening to me.” Subjects
rated each item on a scale from 1 to 5: 1 5strongly disagree,
35neutral, and 5 5strongly agree. We measured partici-
pants’ confidence with a judgment task in which subjects
were presented seven general knowledge related statements
and they had to choose between two mutually exclusive
answers. In addition, subjects had to evaluate their confi-
dence that the answer is correct on a scale from 50% to 100%,
where 50% stands for “I am not at all sure” and 100% stands
for “I am completely sure” (see Supporting Information).
The final confidence score was defined as a difference
between the mean confidence score and the mean propor-
tion of correct answers.
Sternberg’s [1986] triangular theory of love suggests that
love can be understood by three components: intimacy, pas-
sion, and commitment. These components have also been
used in other theories of love [Aron and Westbay, 1996] and
they reflect the different aspects of love [Sternberg, 1997].
We did not use Sternberg’s Love Scale directly, as its indi-
vidual items could not be applied to the relationship
between an entrepreneur and the venture. Here, subjects
were asked to directly evaluate how strongly the three com-
ponents—intimacy, passion and commitment—characterize
their relationship with their venture/child. This was mea-
sured on a scale from 1 to 5, 1 5not at all, 3 5moderately
strongly, 5 5very strongly. To ensure that the subjects
understood the meaning of the components, a clarifying text
was added in the brackets: intimacy (reflects a feeling of
connection/emotional bond), passion (reflects a drive and
1
The questionnaire included also questions that are of less relevance
for the current report (for ex. risk attitude).
rEntrepreneurial and Parental Love r
r2925 r
motivational energy), and commitment (reflects a decision
to maintain in the relationship).
Furthermore, we asked subjects to evaluate the chances of
success of their company/child, compared to other compa-
nies in the same industry/children of the same age (scale
from 1 5significantly worse to 5 5significantly better) and
how often they set the needs of their company/child before
their own needs (scale from 1 5very seldom to 5 5very
often). Finally, the date and the time of the second session
were scheduled. As a reward, subjects received one movie
ticket, the value of which is about 10 Euros.
Among each individual’s pictures, we selected two pic-
tures that depicted their own firm/child and two pictures
that depicted a firm/child (children) the subject was famil-
iar with. The two pictures of own and “known” firm were
selected from the same subject category (e.g., logos of own
and known firm). All possible extra factors were cropped
and pictures were cut the same size (1024 3768 pixels).
During fMRI, the two pictures of the own firm/child and
the known/child were presented in an alternating order
(starting condition counterbalanced) on a dark background
(Fig. 1). The pictures were presented for 30 s at a time and
each picture was repeated six times. Subjects were
instructed to focus on the picture viewing and to think about
things and events related to the presented picture. To reduce
any carry-over effects, subjects performed a count-back task
for 30 s between the pictures [Aron et al., 2005; Acevedo
et al., 2012]. Subjects saw a four-digit number, such as 8421
(the number varied), on the screen and their task was to
count back from the number in increments of seven as long
as the number was on the screen.
After the fMRI, subjects rated the emotional intensity eli-
cited by each picture. They rated how strongly different
emotions (joy, satisfaction, pride, love, passion, disappoint-
ment, fear, sadness) related to each picture (the scale from
1to5:15not at all, 3 5moderately, 5 5very strongly).
MRI Data Acquisition
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was performed with
Siemens MAGNETOM Skyra 3-tesla MRI scanner at the
Advanced Magnetic Imaging Centre (AaltoNeuroImaging,
Figure 1.
Trial structure. Upper panels, the task of the fathers. The photos
of own child/children and a familiar child/children were presented
in an alternating order for 30 s each. Note that the photos in the
figure are just example photos; the children in the photos are not
related to the study. Lower panels, the task of the entrepreneurs.
The pictures of subject’s own firm and a familiar firm were pre-
sented in an alternating order for 30 s each. The pictures of the
firms depicted business idea, logo, product, or key personnel, and
the pictures related with one’s own firm and with the familiar firm
were chosen for each subject from the same categories. Subjects
were instructed to think about things and events related to the
picture on the screen. Each picture was followed by a count-back
distraction task. Subjects saw a number on the screen and their
task was to count back from the number in increments of seven as
long as the number was on the screen. The total duration of the
task was 13 min. [Color figure can be viewed at wileyonlineli-
brary.com]
rHalko et al. r
r2926 r
Aalto University). Whole-brain data were acquired with
T2*-weighted echo-planar imaging (EPI), sensitive to
blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) signal contrast with
the following parameters: 36 axial slices, 3 mm slice thick-
ness, TR 52170 ms, TE 530 ms, flip angle 5708, FOV5
192 mm, voxel size 3 3333mm
3
. A total of 345 volumes
were acquired, preceded by 4 dummy volumes to allow
for equilibration effects. T1-weighted structural images
were acquired at a resolution of 1 3131mm
3
. All
images were acquired using a 32-channel head coil.
Stimulus delivery was controlled using Presentation
software (Neurobehavioral Systems Inc., Albany, Califor-
nia, USA). Visual stimuli were back-projected on a semi-
transparent screen, and from there via a mirror to the
subject. Data were preprocessed and analyzed using SPM8
(Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience, London,
UK [Friston et al., 1995]). The functional data were motion
and slice time corrected and indirectly normalized to MNI
template by applying co-registration and segmentation
procedures prior to the normalization. Finally, the data
were spatially smoothed using a kernel with 7 373
7 mm full-width–at-half-maximum, that is, twice the origi-
nal voxel size in each dimension. A standard high-pass
cutoff of 0.008 Hz was used.
Data Analysis
At a single-subject level, the two types of image blocks
(Fig. 1) were modeled using boxcar functions, convolved
with canonical hemodynamic response function. The mod-
el also included six motion parameters as nuisance regres-
sors. Subject-level contrasts, one contrast per subject (own
vs known child/firm), were entered into a second-level
analysis. The second-level analysis studied activation for
each group separately (one-sample t-test) and group differ-
ences in activation (two-sample t-test), and modeled also
an individual level covariate (Affect Intensity Measure
score) to account for the potentially confounding effect of
group differences in affect intensity. Here, the statistical
maps were created using thresholds P<0.001 (uncorrected)
at voxel level and P<0.05 (with familywise error correction)
at cluster level unless otherwise stated. Locations of supra-
threshold clusters are reported in MNI coordinates.
The fMRI data analysis involved three approaches. First,
we analyzed fathers’ and entrepreneurs’ data separately
using the whole-brain search volume. This analysis identi-
fied brain regions where activity differs between the two
conditions: viewing a picture of own versus a familiar
child/firm. In the second approach, we performed the
region of interest (ROI) analysis to compare our results
with other studies about paternal attachment and to test
differences between the two groups, fathers and entrepre-
neurs, for the contrast own child/firm versus familiar
child/firm. We identified the ROIs either based on previ-
ous research on paternal love (caudate nucleus, amygdala,
STS, middle insula, vACC) or based on our first analysis
approach. That is, ROIs were either defined a priori or
identified with one data set and used in the other data set.
The coordinates for bilateral amygdala and STS ROIs were
obtained from Abraham et al. [2014] who also reported
parental love-related activations in the left middle insula
and the left vACC. As Abraham et al. [2014] did not, how-
ever, report right-hemisphere activations in these struc-
tures, we obtained bilateral insula and vACC coordinates
from Bartels and Zeki [2004]. For the caudate nucleus, we
used an anatomically defined ROI (bilateral).
ROIs were defined using the WFU Pick Atlas Tool
[Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Maldjian
et al., 2003, 2004] and the MarsBaR software package [Brett
et al. 2002; http://marsbar.sourceforge.net]. For bilateral
amygdala, STS, middle insula, and vACC, we located a
sphere-shaped volume (two voxel radius) around the pre-
defined locations (Table I). Mean parameter values across
voxels in the ROIs were calculated for each participant
and each ROI using the MarsBaR software package. Last,
we assessed associations (Pearson correlation) between
ROI activation and subjects’ behavioral data.
As individual love and IOS scores most closely relate with
the affect relationship under study, in the last approach, we
also analyzed models where we used the IOS scores as an
additional individual level covariate in the second-level
analysis. The love score is strongly correlated with the IOS
score (Supporting Information, Tables S1–S3), especially in
fathers, and therefore, it was not included in the model.
RESULTS
Behavioral Results
Both entrepreneurs and fathers were slightly overconfi-
dent about the chances of success of their company/child.
Entrepreneurs rated their company and fathers rated their
child significantly better than average on the chances of
success, and there were no statistically significant differ-
ence between the groups (4.35 vs 4.10, two-sided t-test,
P50.26). Both entrepreneurs and fathers were also slightly
overconfident in their judgments (8.30 vs 15.72, two-sided
t-test, P50.19), and both entrepreneurs and fathers
reported that they set the needs of their company/child
before their own needs more frequently than “often” (3.95
vs 4.19, two-sided t-test, P50.26).
TABLE I. Predicted regions of change
MNI coordinates
Brain region Left Right
Amygdala 224 22229 26 22229
STS 261 26211 63 2629
Middle insula 244 12 294916213
Ventral ACC 284926114426
rEntrepreneurial and Parental Love r
r2927 r
Entrepreneurs scored slightly higher than fathers in the
amount of love, the average measure formed from the values
for the three love components (Fig. 2), but the difference
between the groups was not statistically significant (4.29 vs
4.19, two-sided t-test, P50.45). In addition, entrepreneurs
rated their relationship with their company slightly closer,
or more interconnected, than fathers their relationship with
their child/children but the difference was not statistically
significant (IOS-test, scale 1–7, a higher number indicates
higher closeness, 5.29 vs 4.81, two-sided t-test, P50.13).
Even though the overall measures of love and closeness
did not differ between the two groups, we did however
find some differences between the groups in respect to
some of the three love components (Fig. 2). In entrepre-
neurs, a repeated measures ANOVA with a Greenhouse-
Geisser correction determined that mean ratings did not
differ statistically significantly between the different
components (F(1.59, 36.94) 51.59, P50.22). In fathers, the
ratings differed statistically significantly between the
components (F(1.64, 32.70) 522.73, P<0.0005). The fathers
in our study, as in Sternberg [1997], rated the passion com-
ponent somewhat lower than the other two components.
Post hoc tests using the Bonferroni correction revealed that
fathers rated the commitment component (mean 54.67)
slightly higher that the intimacy component (mean 54.43)
but the difference was not statistically significant
(P50.23), whereas fathers’ rating for the passion compo-
nent (mean 53.48) was statistically different to the intima-
cy (P50.001) and commitment (P<0.0005) components.
Individual differences in love and the sense of closeness
were associated with each other: subjects with high IOS
scores had also high scores in love (Supporting Informa-
tion, Table S1, pairwise correlation r50.57, P<0.01). In
addition, individuals who had higher success beliefs were
also more optimistic and more overconfident in their judg-
ment (Supporting Information, Table S1, pairwise correla-
tions: r50.39, P50.01 and 0.32, P50.04). A more detailed
analysis showed that, in fathers, the sense of closeness
was strongly associated with love (Supporting Informa-
tion, Table S2, pairwise correlation r50.76, P<0.01)
whereas, in entrepreneurs, the correlation was also posi-
tive but not significant (Supporting Information, Table S3,
pairwise correlation r50.32, P50.16).
Affect Intensity
Entrepreneurs scored higher than fathers on the Affect
Intensity Measure (AIM) (Supporting Information, Fig. S2,
3.83 vs 3.46, two-sided t-test, P50.01). Instead of being a uni-
dimensional construct that measures the intensity with which
people experience both positive and negative emotions
[Larsen and Diener 1987], several studies have suggested that
the AIM comprised several weakly correlated factors [e.g.,
Williams et al., 1989; Weinfurt et al. 1994; Rubin et al., 2008;
Rubin et al., 2012]. When we applied the four factor structure
suggested by Williams et al. [1989] and Weinfurt et al. [1994],
we found that entrepreneurs scored higher than fathers espe-
cially in factors related with positive emotions (Supporting
Information, Fig. S2, positive intensity: 3.88 vs 3.27, two-sided
t-test, P50.02; positive affectivity: 4.33 vs 3.86, two-sided t-
test, P50.007). In factors measuring the strength with which
people experience negative emotions, there were no statistical-
ly significant differences between entrepreneurs and fathers
(Supporting Information, Fig. S2, negative intensity: 2.87 vs
2.74, two-sided t-test, P50.47; negative reactivity: 3.77 vs 3.59,
two-sided t-test, P50.44). The AIM score was not significant-
ly associated with the other behavioral measures (Supporting
Information, Tables S1–S3).
Positive Versus Negative Emotions,
Own Versus Known
Both entrepreneurs and fathers rated the intensity of posi-
tive emotions (joy, satisfaction, pride, love, passion) associat-
ed with their company/child significantly stronger than the
intensity of positive emotions associated with the company/
child they know (Supporting Information, Fig. S3 and S4).
The strongest positive feeling the images elicited in entre-
preneurs was pride and in fathers love. Subjects rated the
intensity of negative emotions (disappointment, fear, sad-
ness) very low in general and there were no significant dif-
ference between negative emotions associated with their
own company/child and negative emotions associated with
a familiar company/child. The only exception was fathers
and fear; the intensity of fear associated with own child was
not strong but significantly stronger than the intensity of
fear associated with a familiar child.
Figure 2.
Love components. Subjects rated how strongly the following
three components relate to their relationship with their ven-
ture/child: intimacy (reflects a feeling of connection/emotional
bond), passion (reflects a drive and motivational energy), and
commitment (reflects a decision of maintaining the relationship).
The scale was from 1 to 5, 1 5not at all, 3 5moderately,
55very strongly. The bars represent mean ratings for the three
components and their average (love). Error bars indicate the
standard error of the mean. [Color figure can be viewed at
wileyonlinelibrary.com]
rHalko et al. r
r2928 r
We combined the intensity ratings related with positive
emotions (joy, satisfaction, pride, love, passion) and ratings
related with negative emotions (disappointment, fear, sad-
ness) and calculated average difference between the ratings
associated with own company/child and with a familiar
company/child. Entrepreneurs rated the intensity of nega-
tive emotions associated with their own company equally
strong, or weak, as the intensity of negative emotions associ-
ated with a familiar company (1.24 vs 1.33, paired t-test,
P>0.10). Fathers, on the other hand, rated the intensity of
negative emotions associated with their own child slightly
stronger than the intensity of negative emotions associated
with a familiar child (1.53 vs 1.25, paired t-test, P50.04). In
positive emotions, differences in the intensities were clear;
the intensity of positive emotions associated with own com-
pany/child was much stronger than the intensity associated
with a familiar company/child (entrepreneurs: 3.57 vs 2.30,
paired t-test, P<0.01; fathers: 4.06 vs 2.31, paired t-test,
P<0.01). In addition, fathers’ estimate of positive emotions
associated with their own child was significantly higher
than entrepreneurs’ estimate of positive emotions associated
with their own company (4.06 vs 3.57, two-sided t-test,
P50.01).
Regional Effects in fMRI
Paternal love
We first identified brain regions involved in fathers
viewing images of their own versus familiar child. The
contrast own versus known child revealed no regions that
were significantly more activated in the own-child than in
the familiar-child condition. The opposite contrast, known
versus own child, revealed activations in left posterior cin-
gulate cortex (PCC, BA23), bilateral temporoparietal junc-
tion (TPJ, BA39), and right and left dorsomedial prefrontal
Figure 3.
Paternal love. Panel A. Activations revealed when fathers viewed
pictures of familiar children versus pictures of their own chil-
dren. For illustration, voxel-level threshold of P<0.005, minimal
cluster size 20 voxels of 2 3232mm
3
. Panel B. Average
betas from bilateral caudate nucleus (anatomically defined), STS,
amygdala, middle insula and vACC (known 2own contrast
results). Betas calculated from a 6-mm-radius spheres, center at
261 26211 and 63 2629 (STS), 224 22229 and 26 22
229 (amygdala), 244 12 29 and 49 16 213 (middle insula),
284926 and 11 49 26 (vACC). Error bars indicate the stan-
dard error of mean (SEM). Two-sided ttests, *P<0.10,
**P<0.05, ***P<0.01. Panel C. Average betas from bilateral
caudate nucleus and amygdala (own 2known contrast results)
and fathers individual confidence scores. Individuals with confi-
dence score >0 are overconfident. The scatterplots include
regression lines for visualization only. [Color figure can be
viewed at wileyonlinelibrary.com]
rEntrepreneurial and Parental Love r
r2929 r
cortex (DMPFC, BA8), and two clusters in temporal cortex
(BA22; Fig. 3A and Table II).
Next we compared responses to the pictures of own
child versus familiar child with those found in previous
studies on paternal attachment. Therefore, we performed a
ROI analysis on bilateral STS, amygdala, middle insula,
and vACC (Table I) and on anatomically defined caudate
nucleus. The ROI analysis in the STS showed significant
differences with the contrast known 2own child but not
the ROIs in the caudate nucleus, amygdala, middle insula,
and vACC (Fig. 3B, two-sided t-tests, caudate nucleus
P50.48, STS P50.003, amygdala P50.15, middle insula
P50.12, and vACC P50.58). The activation in the caudate
nucleus or in the emotional processing network did not
significantly differ between own and familiar child trials,
but the further analysis revealed that the activation in the
caudate nucleus and amygdala was associated with
fathers’ individual confidence scores. There was a signifi-
cant negative correlation between confidence of fathers
and caudate nucleus and amygdala response to own ver-
sus familiar child (Fig. 3C, pairwise correlation, caudate
nucleus r520.49, P50.024; amygdala r520.66,
P50.001). For fathers who were slightly underconfident in
their judgments, an image of an own child tended to elicit
higher caudate nucleus and amygdala activation than an
image of a familiar child, whereas for most of the overcon-
fident fathers, and image of own child elicited lower acti-
vation on the caudate nucleus and amygdala than an
image of a familiar child.
When responses to the own versus known child were
modeled with subjectwise IOS scores (random effects group
analysis with individual IOS scores as an additional covari-
ate), a significant positive correlation was observed in the
left superior frontal gyrus (BA8; Supporting Information,
Table S4; pairwise correlation coefficient r50.66, P<0.01;
Supporting Information, Fig. S5), and in two smaller clusters
in the right prefrontal cortex (sup. front. gyrus, BA8; med.
sup. front. gyrus, BA9; Supporting Information, Table S4).
2
As father’s individual IOS scores are highly correlated with
their individual love scores (Supporting Information, Table
S2), activation in left superior frontal gyrus was also associ-
ated with fathers’ individual love scores (pairwise correla-
tion coefficient r50.55). For the subjects with a high IOS or
love score, an image of own child tended to elicit higher acti-
vation on these areas than an image of a familiar child,
whereas for the subjects with a low IOS or love score, an
image of own child elicited lower frontal activation than an
image of a familiar child. No negative associations were
observed between responses to own versus known child
and IOS or love score.
Entrepreneurial love
Next we identified brain regions involved in viewing
images of own versus familiar company. The contrast own
versus known firm revealed one region in right caudate
nucleus that was significantly more activated in the own-
company than in the familiar-company condition, and the
opposite contrast revealed one region in right insula that
was significantly more activated in the known-company
than in the own-company condition (Fig. 4A,B and Table II).
TABLE II. Brain regions with significant differences own versus known or known versus own contrasts
Activated region BA Coordinates Cluster size Z
max
(1) Fathers
Known vs own
Posterior cingulate cortex 23 12 244 32 536 4.68
Temporoparietal junction 39 48 258 24 197 4.59
Temporoparietal junction 39 248 264 24 397 4.36
Dorsomedial prefrontal cortex 8 8 36 56 470 3.90
Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex† 9 12 40 26 1856 4.16
Dorsomedial prefrontal cortex† 8 230 18 56 325 4.05
Superior temporal gyrus,
extending to insula†
22 246 2824 763 3.72
Superior temporal gyrus† 22 52 210 10 368 3.71
(2) Entrepreneurs
Own vs known
Caudate† 48 20 2 22 532 3.99
Known vs own
Superior temporal gyrus,
extending to insula †
13 42 6 216 324 3.67
Voxel-level threshold of P<0.001, cluster-level threshold of P<0.05, familywise error correction, whole-brain, cluster size in voxels of
23232mm
3
(† voxel-level threshold of P<0.005). Locations of suprathreshold clusters are reported in MNI coordinates.
2
In the group of fathers, there is no significant correlation between
the two covariates, the AIM score and the IOS score (Table S2). In
addition, we did not find significant correlation between the IOS
scores and the caudate, amygdala, STS, middle insula, vACC
activation.
rHalko et al. r
r2930 r
Figure 4.
Entrepreneurial love. Panel A. Activations revealed when entre-
preneurs viewed pictures of their own firm versus pictures of a
familiar firm. For illustration, voxel-level threshold of P<0.005,
minimal cluster size 20 voxels of 2 3232mm
3
. Panel B. Acti-
vations revealed when entrepreneurs viewed pictures of familiar
firms versus pictures of their own firm. For illustration, voxel-
level threshold of P<0.005, minimal cluster size 20 voxels of 2
3232mm
3
. Panel C. Average betas from bilateral caudate
nucleus (anatomically defined), STS, amygdala, middle insula and
vACC (known 2own contrast results). Betas calculated from a
6 mm radius spheres, center at 261 26211 and 63 2629
(STS), 224 22229 and 26 22229 (amygdala), 244 12 29
and 49 16 213 (middle insula), 284926 and 11 49 26
(vACC). Error bars indicate the standard error of mean (SEM).
Two-sided t-tests, *P<0.10, **P<0.05, ***P<0.01. Panel D.
Average betas from right caudate nucleus and bilateral STS,
amygdala and middle insula (own 2known contrast results) and
entrepreneurs individual confidence scores. Individuals with con-
fidence score >0 are overconfident. The scatterplots include
regression lines for visualization only. [Color figure can be
viewed at wileyonlinelibrary.com]
rEntrepreneurial and Parental Love r
r2931 r
With entrepreneurs, we also compared responses to the
pictures of own firm versus familiar firm with those found
in previous studies on paternal attachment. Therefore, like
with fathers, we next performed a ROI analysis on bilater-
al STS, amygdala, middle insula and vACC (Table I) and
on anatomically defined bilateral caudate nucleus. Unlike
with fathers, the ROI analysis in the bilateral middle
insula showed significant differences with the contrast
known 2own firm but not the ROIs in the caudate nucle-
us, amygdala, STS, and vACC (Fig. 4C, two-sided t-tests,
caudate nucleus P50.45, STS P50.62, amygdala P50.50,
middle insula P50.04, vACC P50.31).
For fathers, the average parameter values in the reward
and emotional processing network—caudate nucleus,
amygdala, middle insula, and vACC—did not significantly
differ from zero. For entrepreneurs, a picture of a familiar
firm elicited significantly lower activation in the middle
insula than a picture of own company (Table II). Further
analysis showed that the activation in STS and in all three
areas of the emotional processing network was associated
with entrepreneurs’ individual confidence scores; there
was a significant correlation between confidence of entre-
preneurs and STS, amygdala, middle insula and vACC
response to own vs. familiar firm (Fig. 4D, pairwise corre-
lations: STS, r520.51, P50.02; amygdala, r520.48,
P50.03; middle insula, r520.64, P50.002; vACC,
r520.39, P50.08). In bilateral caudate nucleus, the asso-
ciation was also negative but not statistically significant
(r520.34, P50.13). When we studied the left and right
caudate nucleus separately, we found a significant nega-
tive association between the activation in the right caudate
nucleus and entrepreneurs’ individual confidence scores
(Fig. 4D, pairwise correlation: r520.41, P50.07). Like for
underconfident fathers also for under-confident entrepre-
neurs’, an image of own firm tended to elicit stronger acti-
vation on the bilateral amygdala, middle insula and
vACC, and in the right caudate nucleus than an image of
a familiar firm, whereas for overconfident entrepreneurs,
the activation pattern in those areas was reversed.
When responses to the own versus known company
were modeled with subjectwise IOS scores (random effects
group analysis with individual IOS scores as an additional
covariate), a significant negative correlation was observed
in the right posterior cingulate cortex (BA31; Supporting
Information, Fig. S6A; pairwise correlation r520.71,
P<0.01).
3
Activation in the region was also negatively but
not significantly associated with entrepreneurs’ individual
love scores (Supporting Information, Fig. S6B, pairwise
correlation r520.17, P50.47). For the subjects with high
IOS score, an image of own company tended to elicit lower
activation on this area than an image of a familiar compa-
ny, whereas for the subjects with low IOS score, an image
of own company elicited higher PCC activation than an
image of a familiar company. No positive associations were
observed between responses to own versus known compa-
ny and IOS score.
Paternal versus entrepreneurial love
Next we compared responses to the pictures of own
child/firm versus familiar child/firm between the two
groups, fathers and entrepreneurs. Two-sample t-tests
examining for group differences in the own 2known con-
trast at the whole-brain level revealed four clusters of
increased neural activity in the entrepreneurs’ group (Fig.
5A and Supporting Information, Table S5): two clusters in
the posterior cingulate cortex (BA23, BA31), in the left
temporo parietal junction (BA39), and in the dorsomedial
prefrontal cortex (BA8). The areas where the group differ-
ence, entrepreneurs 2fathers, was the largest overlapped
to a great extent with the areas activated when fathers
viewed pictures of children familiar to them (vs. pictures
of their own children). No significant clusters were found
in the fathers’ versus entrepreneurs’ group contrast.
As the group differences were found in the areas that, in
fathers, triggered deactivation while watching pictures of
one’s own child (PCC, TPJs, and DMPFC), we next used the
four clusters identified by the fathers’ known 2own child
contrast to define ROIs. For each cluster, we first located a
sphere-shaped volume (6 mm radius) around the peak acti-
vation, and extracted BOLD signal values from each of the
regions. For entrepreneurs, average betas on those areas did
not significantly differ from zero, but interestingly, activa-
tion in DMPFC was negatively associated with entrepre-
neurs’ IOS scores. Thus, there was a significant correlation
between the feeling of closeness of entrepreneurs and their
DMPFC response to own versus familiar firm (Fig. 5B, pair-
wise correlation r520.40, P50.07). In PCC and TPJs, the
association was also negative but not significant.
To study this negative association further and more
broadly in the PCC and TPJ clusters, we next modeled entre-
preneurs’ responses to the own versus known company
with subjectwise IOS scores as an additional covariate, and
used the PCC and TPJ clusters as ROIs. In this more compre-
hensive analysis, we found a significant negative correla-
tions also within the clusters (Fig. 5C; PCC pairwise
correlation r520.57, P<0.01; left TPJ pairwise correlation
r520.65, P<0.01; right TPJ pairwise correlation r520.49,
P50.02).
Activation in the four regions (PCC, left and right TPJ,
and DMPFC) was also negatively associated with the
intensity of positive emotions entrepreneurs related with
their own company vs. with a familiar company (Support-
ing Information, Fig. S3, pairwise correlations DMPFC,
r520.47; PCC, r520.41; left TPJ, r520.36; right TPJ,
r520.51). For the entrepreneurs with a high IOS score or
3
In the group of entrepreneurs, there is no significant correlation
between the two covariates, the AIM score and the IOS score (Sup-
porting Information, Table S3). In addition, we did not find signifi-
cant correlation between the IOS scores and the caudate, amygdala,
STS, middle insula, vACC activation.
rHalko et al. r
r2932 r
Figure 5.
Parental versus entrepreneurial love. Panel A. Activations
revealed when fathers viewed pictures of familiar children versus
pictures of their own children (yellow blobs), and activations
revealed by the contrast testing the group differences (entrepre-
neurs 2fathers) in the own 2known contrast (red blobs). Over-
lapping areas in orange. Panel B. Correlation between DMPFC
activation and entrepreneur 2firm closeness scores; average
betas from DMPFC cluster and individual IOS scores (betas
calculated from a 6-mm-radius sphere, center at 8 36 56). Panels
C–E. Correlation between PCC and TPJ activation and entrepre-
neur 2firm closeness scores; average betas from PCC, left TPJ
and right TPJ cluster and individual IOS scores (betas calculated
from a 6-mm-radius sphere, center at 8 250 24 (PCC), 246
250 34 (TPJ left), and 50 248 24 (TPJ right)). [Color figure can
be viewed at wileyonlinelibrary.com]
rEntrepreneurial and Parental Love r
r2933 r
a large difference in the intensities, an image of own com-
pany tended to elicit lower activation on these areas than
an image of a familiar company, just like for fathers, an
image of own child elicited lower activation than an image
of a familiar child. No positive associations were observed
between responses to own versus known company and
the IOS score or with the intensity of positive emotions
related with own versus familiar company.
Affect Intensity and Brain Activation
The basic second-level analysis was carried out using
the Affect Intensity Measure (AIM) score as an individual
level covariate. Excluding the covariate from the analysis
has only minor effects on the basic contrast results (Sup-
porting Information, Table S6). However, for fathers, a sig-
nificant positive correlation was observed in the right
superior temporal gyrus (BA22; peak at 68 246 8, cluster
size 5137, Z
max
54.03). For the fathers with strong emo-
tional reactions, an image of own child elicited higher acti-
vation on the right superior temporal gyrus than an image
of a familiar child, whereas for the fathers with mild emo-
tional reactions, an image of own child elicited lower tem-
poral activation than an image of a familiar child
(Supporting Information, Fig. S7; pairwise correlation
r50.68, P50.0007). For fathers, no negative associations,
and for entrepreneurs, no associations, positive or nega-
tive, were observed between responses to own versus
known child/firm and the AIM score.
DISCUSSION
This is the first fMRI study to examine the brain basis of
entrepreneurs’ attachment to their own firms. We started
with the hypotheses that an entrepreneur’s emotional
experience toward his firm resembles parents’ feelings
toward their children [e.g., Cardon et al., 2005]. According
to the behavioral results, entrepreneurial love is strikingly
similar to paternal love. In particular, entrepreneurs and
fathers scored equally high in the amount of love [the tri-
angular theory of love, Sternberg, 1986] and had a similar
sense of closeness with their company/children [the IOS
scale, Aron et al., 1992]. At the neural level, we confirm
the earlier finding that parental love deactivates the areas
associated with the social assessment of other people
[Bartels and Zeki, 2004]. Entrepreneurs who rated their
relationship with their enterprise very close, or intercon-
nected, or who associated especially intense positive emo-
tions with their company, showed a similar suppression of
activity in the areas mediating social assessment. Although
an entrepreneur–firm relationship is by nature only indi-
rectly social and more abstract than a parent–child rela-
tionship, they both appear to be supported by neural
networks associated with social understanding.
In addition, individual differences in confidence also
influenced neural encoding of both paternal and
entrepreneurial love. For underconfident fathers, a picture
of one’s own child was associated with stronger activation
and for overconfident fathers with weaker activation in the
caudate nucleus and amygdala. For entrepreneurs, a similar
pattern of activation was more widespread in the reward
and emotional processing network (right caudate nucleus,
amygdala, middle insula, vACC), suggesting similar neural
mechanisms underlie sensitivity for potential threats con-
cerning one’s child and venture in both parents and
entrepreneurs.
Love is Rewarding
Both paternal and entrepreneurial love activate the brain
areas which fall within the reward network of the brain.
Previous studies about maternal and romantic love have
shown that the activation pattern in the striatum (nucleus
accumbens, caudate nucleus and putamen) is associated
with the two types of love [Bartels and Zeki, 2004; Aron
et al., 2005; Zeki, 2007; Acevedo et al., 2012]. The striatum
is a crucial part or the reward system of the human brain
and a major projection site of midbrain dopamine cells,
and it is activated by a variety of reward: primary reinfor-
ces like food and drink [e.g., Kelley, 2004], secondary rein-
forces like money [e.g., Knutson et al., 2001], reward
prediction [e.g., Onoda et al., 2011], and is also central to
social decision-making [e.g., King-Casas et al., 2005].
In Bartels and Zeki [2004], the activation in the caudate
nucleus was associated both with maternal and romantic
love. In our study, especially a picture of one’s own firm
elicited stronger activation in the right caudate nucleus
than a picture of a familiar firm. Like parenting or roman-
tic love, entrepreneurship may be a rewarding experience.
To explain the motivational tendencies of entrepreneurs,
we can apply, for example, the regulatory focus theory
[Higgins, 1998]. The theory suggests that individuals with
a promotion focus direct effort toward tasks that will bring
about the achievement of goals and aspirations [Trevelyan,
2008] and consequently establish ventures to seek rewards
and pleasure. It represents an opportunity for advancement
and growth that bring them into alignment with their ideal
selves [Brockner et al., 2004].
Social Representation and Self-Identification
Watching pictures of one’s own child triggered deactiva-
tion in brain regions that are associated with social under-
standing (mentalization) and social processing. Previous
research has indicated that both maternal and romantic
love are related with deactivation in the areas of social
judgement [Bartels and Zeki, 2004]. In fathers, the deacti-
vation pattern was remarkably similar to that of mothers
and romantically in love: a picture of one’s own child
evoked weaker activation in the PCC, left and right TPJ,
DMPFC and in the superior temporal gyrus than a picture
of a familiar child. The prefrontal cortex and the
rHalko et al. r
r2934 r
temporoparietal junctions belong to the brain areas active
in tasks that require understanding of other people’s inten-
tions and emotions. In parents, both in mothers and in
fathers, the deactivation in those areas may be an indica-
tion of a suspension of critical assessment related with
one’s own child [Bartels and Zeki, 2004]. Or, mothers and
fathers do not engage in social processing when watching
their own child as the child represents an extension of
their self.
In entrepreneurs, individual differences in closeness
between an entrepreneur and his firm influenced the activa-
tion pattern in the PCC, TPJ and DMPFC. To assess the close-
ness of the relationship between an entrepreneur (a father)
and his venture (child), we used the IOS scale [Aron et al.,
1992]. The IOS scale has become a widely used index of the
sense of closeness, and it has been used to measure self-
expansion and the inclusion of others in the self [e.g., Aron
and McLaughlin-Volpe, 2001; Ashforth et al., 2016]. Studies
on social identities have indicated that the self can be com-
posed of many things including one’s family, social relation-
ships, and family possessions [e.g., Trump and Bucks, 2012].
For example, individuals may identify non-human phenome-
na such as loved brands with themselves and include them in
one’s self [e.g., Escalas and Bettman 2005; Trump and Bucks,
2012; Batra et al. 2012]. For entrepreneurs, the own venture
may represent an extension of their self: an entrepreneur
identifies with the values, attitudes and attributes of the ven-
ture which define who he is [e.g., Ashforth et al. 2016]. There-
fore, for entrepreneurs who felt very close and interconnected
with their firm, a picture of their own firm was associated
with weaker activation, and for entrepreneurs not so close
and interconnected with their firm, with stronger activation
in the PCC, TPJ, and DMPFC.
Overconfidence and Emotional
Processing Network
In fathers, individual differences in confidence affected
the activation pattern in the emotional processing network.
In under-confident fathers, a picture of one’s own child
elicited greater activation in the amygdala than a picture
of a familiar child. Previous research has linked the
amygdala activation particularly with primary-caregiving
mothers [Abraham et al., 2014], and, on the other hand,
underconfidence is more typical for women than for men
[e.g., Barber and Odean, 2001]. The results can indicate
that underconfident fathers, like mothers, are more sensi-
tive to the risks and threats related with parenthood. In
overconfident fathers, a picture of one’s own child elicited
weaker activation in the amygdala than a picture of a famil-
iar child. In overconfident entrepreneurs, the suppression of
activity was even more pronounced and covered the three
areas of the emotional processing network (amygdala, mid-
dle insula, and vACC). Our results suggest that overconfi-
dence and the suspension of negative emotions may also
underlie the entrepreneurs’ overestimation of success prob-
ability and optimistic beliefs.
Entrepreneurial Love Can be Blind
At the neural level, our results suggest that activation in
the brain regions related with critical social assessment
and negative emotions are suppressed when watching a
picture of one’s own child/firm versus a picture of a
familiar child/firm. Bartels and Zeki [2004] made a similar
observation with mothers and with individuals romantical-
ly in love, and makes the tentative conclusions that this
result brings us closer to explaining in neurological terms
why “love is blind.” The “love is blind” thesis claims that
love generates an overly sanguine view of the close other
[Fletcher and Kerr, 2010]. It represents a cognitive bias
that makes individuals less inclined to accurately evaluate
their close ones. This positive illusion, that is particularly
typical in romantic relationships, is associated with indi-
vidual’s tendency to write off faults and negative behavior
and rely on pre-existent beliefs rather than objective data
[Swami et al., 2009; Fletcher and Kerr, 2010]. It also reflects
social trustworthiness [Winston et al., 2002; Critchley
et al., 2000], which means that the need to assess the social
validity of the other is reduced [Bartels and Zeki, 2004]. At
the same time, the cognitive bias has a positive effect in
that it cultivates happiness and creates a strong bond and
commitment by enhancing individual’s sense of security in
a relationship [Swami et al., 2009].
Entrepreneurs “in love” rely on their subjective beliefs
represented in “an inside view” which perceives the details
of one’s own firm as unique and ignore or underweight
objective information that may undermine these beliefs
[Camerer and Lovallo, 1999]. As in interpersonal relation-
ships, the perceived need to rely on external data to validate
the qualities of one’s own venture is reduced. Accordingly,
entrepreneurs tend to underestimate the competitor’s abili-
ties [Hayward et al. 2006], which would explain their critical
assessment of the familiar company within the same indus-
try. In addition, in close relationships, the identity of the
close other is internalized meaning that the entrepreneur’s
optimistic view of his venture is also likely to reflect the
belief that their own abilities are better than that of average
entrepreneurs [e.g., Hayward et al. 2006; Hyytinen et al.
2014]. While cognitive illusions, that appear to be shared in
entrepreneurship and fatherhood, explain entry into entre-
preneurship and persistence of entrepreneurs when they
face uncertainties and difficulties, illusions are also often
responsible for many flops and nonoptimal decisions that
are made in the entrepreneurial process.
Differences in Affect Intensity
Entrepreneurs scored higher than fathers in the AIM
factors that measure the intensity of positive emotions.
Entrepreneurship research highlights the importance of
rEntrepreneurial and Parental Love r
r2935 r
affect in entrepreneurship [Baron, 2008, Baron and Tang,
2011]. In relation to their work, entrepreneurs may experi-
ence more intense emotions that the other people because
of their high passion and commitment to their business
ideas [Baron, 1998]. In addition, positive affect has been
related with entrepreneurs’ creativity, and creativity in
turn has a positive association with firm-level innovation
[Baron and Tang, 2011]. In entrepreneurship, emotions
may also influence opportunity evaluation; for example,
happier entrepreneurs make riskier investment choices
[Foo et al., 2009]. In our study, the emotional attachment
an entrepreneur creates to his venture, or a father to his
child, was studied taking into account the individual dif-
ferences in affect intensity.
Future Directions and Limitations
In this study, we specifically examined entrepreneurs
with growth orientation. Because entrepreneurs have vary-
ing motives and strategies for their business, future
research could compare the emotional responses of vary-
ing segments of the entrepreneur population, including,
for instance, entrepreneurs in family businesses, growth
driven entrepreneurs (represented in the current study),
and necessity-based entrepreneurs. For example, entrepre-
neurs in family businesses, the emotional attachment to
their venture might be stronger than for the other groups
as typically the values and the traditions of their venture
are congruent with and salient to their self-identity.
Another limitation of our study is that all participants
were male, mainly due to difficulties in finding female
entrepreneurs who would fulfill the selection criteria.
Future research on entrepreneurs’ emotional attachment to
their venture could perform an assessment and compari-
son of neural activations of female and male
entrepreneurs.
CONCLUSION
Our results are among the first to address the brain
basis of entrepreneurship and they show that the strong
attachment entrepreneurs can have to their venture is
reflected in the same brain areas as the attachment
between a parent and a child. We conclude that both
entrepreneurial and parental love is reflected in reward
processing in the caudate nucleus and supported by neu-
ral networks associated with emotional processing and
social understanding.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The authors want to thank Professor Necmi Karagozoglu
from the California State University, USA, and Professor
Martin Lindell from the Hanken School of Economics, Fin-
land for their support for the research project. In addition,
the authors want to thank especially Ale Smidts and also
the other participants at the Society for Neuroeconomics
Annual Meeting 2013 and the participants at the
aivoAALTO seminar for useful discussion and comments
on the early stages of the project, and Jan Nikander and
Marita Kattelus for technical assistance. The authors
declare that there is no conflict of interest regarding the
publication of this article.
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