Psychological Science2014-10-31 9:50 AM

The Long Reach of One's Spouse: Spouses' Personality Influences Occupational Success


You marry your spouse “for better, for worse” and “for richer, for poorer,” but does your choice of partner make you richer or poorer? It is unknown whether people’s dispositional characteristics can seep into their spouses’ workplace. Using a representative, longitudinal sample of married individuals (N = 4,544), we examined whether Big Five personality traits of participants’ spouses related to three measures of participants’ occupational success: job satisfaction, income, and likelihood of being promoted. For both male and female participants, partner conscientiousness predicted future job satisfaction, income, and likelihood of promotion, even after accounting for participants’ conscientiousness. These associations occurred because more conscientious partners perform more household tasks, exhibit more pragmatic behaviors that their spouses are likely to emulate, and promote a more satisfying home life, enabling their spouses to focus more on work. These results demonstrate that the dispositional characteristics of the person one marries influence important aspects of one’s professional life.

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Psychological Science

Psychological Science, the flagship journal of the Association for Psychological Science, is the leading peer-reviewed journal publishing empirical research spanning the entire spectrum of the science of psychology.

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