Spouse’s personality influences career success

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Washington: When it comes to pay raises, promotions and other measures of career success, your spouse at home may play a key role, a new research suggests.

“Our study shows that it is not only your own personality that influences the experiences that lead to greater occupational success, but that your spouse’s personality matters too,” said Joshua Jackson, assistant professor of psychology in Arts & Sciences from Washington University in St Louis and lead author of the study.

Although we marry “for better for worse, for richer for poorer,” this study is among the first to demonstrate that the personality traits of the spouse we choose may play a role in determining whether our chosen career makes us richer or poorer.

“The experiences responsible for this association are not likely isolated events where the spouse convinces you to ask for a raise or promotion,” Jackson said.

“Instead, a spouse’s personality influences many daily factors that sum up and accumulate across time to afford one the many actions necessary to receive a promotion or a raise,” said Jackson.

The findings are based on a five-year study of nearly 5,000 married people ranging in age from 19 to 89, with both spouses working in about 75 per cent of the sample.

Jackson and co-author Brittany Solomon, a graduate student in psychology at Washington University, analysed data on study participants who took a series of psychological tests to assess their scores on five broad measures of personality – openness, extraversion, agreeableness, neuroticism and conscientiousness.

In an effort to gauge whether these spousal personality traits might be seeping into the workplace, they tracked the on-the-job performance of working spouses using annual surveys designed to measure occupational success – self-reported opinions on job satisfaction, salary increases and the likelihood of being promoted.

Workers who scored highest on measures of occupational success tended to have a spouse with a personality that scored high for conscientiousness, and this was true whether or not both spouses worked and regardless of whether the working spouse was male or female, the study found. The study was published in the journal Psychological Science.

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