There is a good reason why many entrepreneurs refer to their businesses as their babies, new research finds. A study recently published in the journal Human Brain Mapping revealed that, based on brain activity, entrepreneurs have the same love for the ventures as parents do for their children.
"Entrepreneurial love is strikingly similar to paternal love," the study's authors wrote. "In particular, entrepreneurs and fathers scored equally high in the amount of love and had a similar sense of closeness with their company/children."
For the study, researchers conducted MRIs to study the brain activity of fathers and high-growth entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurs were shown pictures of their companies and other companies they were familiar with, while the fathers were shown pictures of their own children, as well as other kids they knew.
The MRIs showed that, when they saw the pictures, the brain activity of the fathers and entrepreneurs was the same. Specifically, looking at images of one's own child deactivates the parts of the brain that are responsible for the theory of mind and social understanding. The researchers found similar deactivations among entrepreneurs who said they were closely attached to their companies. [See Related Story: 16 Entrepreneurs Share Their Definitions of Success]
The study's authors said the results for fathers were the same as those found in previous studies of mothers.
"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," the study's authors wrote.
Additionally, the brain activity of both entrepreneurs and fathers was associated with their confidence levels.
"Our results indicate that less confident fathers and male entrepreneurs may be more sensitive to the dangers and risks of parenting and entrepreneurship," Marja-Liisa Halko, one of the study's authors and a researcher at the University of Helsinki, said in a statement.
However, overconfidence was found to be a detriment as well. The study's authors found that overconfidence and the repression of negative emotions can lead to entrepreneurs overestimating their probability for success.
The study was co-authored by Tom Lahti from the Hanken School of Economics in Finland, Kaisa Hytonen from Laurea University of Applied Sciences in Finland, and Iiro Jaaskelainen from Aalto University in Finland.