Edge

Entrepreneurs love their companies as much as parents love their kids

Unsurprisingly, they both require a lot of commitment.

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Photograph of Children and Father
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Ever wonder if those hard-charging entrepreneurs who dote on their start-ups maybe love their companies a little too obsessively? Well, maybe you should cut them some slack. Men and women feel as much of a connection and devotion to their companies as parents do for their children (well, maybe not as much—but close), according to a new study, published in Human Brain Mapping.

For the study, researchers fired up an MRI machine and peered into the brains of fathers and entrepreneurs. For the dads, they showed pics of their kids, as well as the kids of other people. And for the business guys, they showed pictures related to their company, versus companies others have started. They discovered the emotions felt by the fathers and entrepreneurs when looking at their own kin and company activated the same areas in the brain, mainly those linked to social understanding, reward, and emotional processing (also associated with people who have high confidence).

“Our results indicate that less-confident fathers and male entrepreneurs may be more sensitive to the dangers and risks of parenting and entrepreneurship,” study co-author Marja-Liisa Halko, Ph.D., of the Hanken School of Economics at the University of Helsinki said in a press release. The study results also suggest that overconfidence and suppression of negative emotions may lead to overshooting the likelihood of success, so people might set unrealistic positive projections for their company.

The bottom line? Findings reveal that the emotional bond a parent feels toward his children is remarkably similar to the feelings of connectedness entrepreneurs feel toward their company. So remember that the next time you try to pry your start-up friend away from his late-night work session for a round of beers. It’s nothing personal if he declines; he’s just got a newborn to attend to.

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