Only Pros Can Curse: Expressing Anger Leads to Being Perceived as Passionate and Increases Funding

Zoom Research Seminar / 5th Floor EE Lecture 2

Man holding sign with angry comic face

Past event — 2 November 2022

Spoken language

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Niklas Kühsel, PhD


Horn & Company

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Problematizing is a virtue for convincing others. When aiming to win outside support for change and innovation, individuals often highlight problems associated with the status quo. Likewise, entrepreneurs highlight problems associated with the status quo when pitching their businesses. To get funded, entrepreneurs not only need to convince others about the relevance of the problem, but also about their dedication to solve this problem. Anger expressions may help entrepreneurs in this endeavour. Because anger is an approach-related emotion, expressing one’s dissatisfaction with the status quo may help in being perceived as determined to solve the problem. Thus, anger expressions might signal entrepreneurs’ passion about their ventures. Yet, current research in entrepreneurship cannot answer so far if anger expressions indeed help entrepreneurs. We suggest that anger expressions can only successfully signal entrepreneurs’ passion and thereby boost their funding success when quality-affirming competition features of the pitch competition provide legitimacy for the participating entrepreneurs. We test our theoretical model with two studies. In the first study, we utilize start-up pitches from TechCrunch Disrupt Start-up Battlefield – one of the most prestigious and high-quality start-up competitions worldwide – to show that anger expressions have positive consequences on pitch evaluations. The second study leverages an experimental design, using three pitches from TechCrunch Disrupt Start-up Battlefield, to add causal validity and to test whether the positive effect of anger expressions indeed is explained by perceived passion and pertains to high-quality start-up competitions.


Niklas Kühsel is a PhD Candidate in the field of Entrepreneurship under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Prisca Brosi and Prof. Dr. Björn Michaelis. In his research he focuses on the consequences of affect and emotion for venturing and funding success. Previous to joining KLU, Niklas did his Bachelor in Economics at the Georg-August University in Göttingen, and his Master in Applied Economics at the University of Bath. He started his PhD at KLU in October 2018.



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Bärbel Wegener

Assistant to Resident Faculty