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Linking Anxiety to Passion: Emotion Regulation and Entrepreneurs’ Pitch Performance


Entrepreneurial pitches are anxiety-provoking and pivotal for the success of the venture. Despite a wealth of research indicating that early-stage investors attend to entrepreneurs’ emotions, little research focuses on how entrepreneurs themselves can manage their emotions to improve their pitches. I investigate how entrepreneurs can manage anxiety prior to pitches by acknowledging the anxiety and linking it to their entrepreneurial passion. I theorize that interpreting anxiety as a reflection of one’s passion for the venture increases the momentary feeling of passion, facilitates expressions of passion during pitches, and increases persuasiveness. I also propose that linking anxiety to passion should be easier and more realistic than calming down, which people are often advised to do. Results from a field survey and two randomizedexperiments support the theory. The findings offer insights for how entrepreneurs can mentally reframe their seemingly detrimental emotional experiences for beneficial outcomes in terms of their persuasiveness and judges’ ratings of their pitch. This work also contributes to emotion regulation research by comparing the effects of different coping mechanisms for pre-pitch anxiety, unpacking the ways to reappraise stressful situations, and demonstrating the utility of fostering beneficial emotions and not just repairing negative ones.

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