We build upon theory from evolutionary psychology and emotional expression, including basic emotion theory and the dual threshold model of anger in organizations, to extend knowledge about the influence of facial expressions of emotion in entrepreneurial fundraising. First, we conduct a qualitative analysis to understand the objects of entrepreneurs’ facial expressions of four basic emotions in their pitches: happiness, anger, fear, and sadness. This provides a base for our theorizing that the frequency of entrepreneurs’ facial expression of each of these emotions exhibits an inverted U-shaped relationship with funding. We also argue that the frequency of changes in entrepreneurs’ facial expressions is positively related to funding. We test our predictions with a sample of 489 funding pitches using computer-aided facial expression analysis. Results support inverted U-shaped relationships of the frequency of facial expression of happiness, anger, and fear with funding, but show a negative relationship of sadness with funding. Results further support that the frequency of changes in entrepreneurs’ facial expressions promote funding.

Keywords: entrepreneurial funding pitch; emotion; emotional expression; facial expression; basic emotions; object of emotion; mixed methods; qualitative; happiness; anger; fear; sadness; passion

Highlights
• Entrepreneurs express both positive and negative emotions in their funding pitches.
• We perform a qualitative analysis examining the objects of entrepreneurs’ facial
expressions and the nature of changes between facial expressions.
• We use facial expression analysis software to perform a quantitative analysis examining
the influence of entrepreneurs’ facial expressions of emotion on funding.
• The frequency of entrepreneurs’ facial expression of happiness, anger, and fear exhibits
an inverted U-shaped relationship with funding.
• The frequency of changes in entrepreneurs’ facial expressions increases funding.