As a parent, you have to keep your eyes from rolling right out of your head when someone without kids says “My business is my baby.” Unfortunately, new research out of Finland says these assholes are kind of right. And it’s not just that you both lose sleep over them. Their findings suggest that entrepreneurs’ brains respond to their businesses the same way yours responds your kid.
The study, published in the journal Human Brain Mapping, compared a relatively small sample of 21 fathers and 21 male entrepreneurs. Subjects were shown either self-selected pictures of their kids or companies, along with other kids or companies, while hooked up to an MRI. Fathers displayed similar activity when they saw their own kids to that of mothers in previous studies. Images of their spawn deactivated parts of their brain that are responsible for the theory of mind and social understanding. Entrepreneurs’ brains deactivated the same way when they saw pictures of their businesses, which suggests that they’re very, very attached to them.
Researchers also found that brain areas responsible for rewarding and processing emotions were affected by the confidence level individuals had in either their parenting or entrepreneurship. Based on the brain scans, researchers deduced advantages found that less confidence may be better. For both dads and entrepreneurs, less confidence was associated with greater sensitivity to dangers and risks. Overconfidence and repression of negative emotions were similarly linked to overestimation of success on both sides. In other words, don’t get cocky.
Not so surprising, that’s exactly what entrepreneurs and dads did. Both rated their child or firm significantly above average in terms of their potential for success. So you might want to leave the risk assessment to your business or regular partner. Funny enough, entrepreneurs scored slightly higher in the amount of “love” they felt for their companies and reported being more interconnected than fathers in their relationships. Though the difference was not statistically significant, this could make a case for treating your kid like a company — even if they’re more like a nonprofit organization.