Section Image: Woman making various facial expressions

Express Yourself, Entrepreneur

Presenting a funding pitch anytime soon? Recent research may make you smile — and frown, and express a few other emotional states, too.

December 05, 2021

A fascinating study, published in the July 2021 issue of the Journal of Business Venturing and as a TCU Neeley School of Business whitepaper, makes a significant contribution to our understanding of how human emotion can influence business outcomes. The study found a strong correlation between entrepreneurs’ range of emotional expression in pitches and the funding they secure.

This research into “the nuances of multiple emotions and their impact” called for by entrepreneurship scholars makes three main contributions to our understanding:

First, combining qualitative insight into entrepreneurs’ emotional expressions in pitches with a theory-driven quantitative analysis concerning the influence of each expression on funding performance, builds knowledge of emotions previously unstudied. Defying the stereotype of the smiling, enthusiastic entrepreneur pitching, this study shows that emotional range gets better results than relying on any single emotion, including happiness.

Second, we extend the dual threshold model’s emphasis on anger to account for three additional emotions. We provide evidence that principles of the dual threshold model regarding “too much” or “too little” expression of a given emotion govern the influence of entrepreneurs’ emotional expressions in funding pitches. In doing so, we answer calls to extend the scope of the dual threshold model of anger resulting in a dual threshold model of emotional expression. Our contribution enhances the generalizability of the dual threshold model itself and opens a new line of research concerning display rules in entrepreneurship.

Finally, by incorporating insights from basic emotion theory and evolutionary psychology theory surrounding change detection, we explain how the frequency of changes in entrepreneurs’ facial expressions of emotions can influence funding.

Read the full whitepaper here.