The Link Between Your Spouse's Personality And That Promotion You Just Got

It's known that personality plays a role in professional success. However, new research suggests that your spouse's personality can greatly affect your career as well.

Researchers from Washington University in St. Louis studied 4,544 married individuals over the course of five years to examine whether spousal personality influenced occupational success.

Using a 36-item questionnaire, researchers classified each participant as having one of the “big five” personality traits: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism. (You can learn more about those here.)

Researchers then asked participants about individual incomes, promotions, how often they have sex with their spouse, relationship satisfaction, duration of relationship, division of household labor and even who makes the decisions about leisure activities, such as going out -- all of which can play a role in how much influence a spouse has on their partner.

“We assume that partners who make joint decisions about their free time tend to spend more of that time together and, therefore, are more likely to adopt one another’s traits,” the researchers explain in the paper.

After measuring all of those factors, one personality trait stood out as the most favorable in a spouse: conscientiousness.

“We found that having a partner who is conscientious is associated with higher levels of job satisfaction, higher levels of income and a greater likelihood of job promotion,” the paper states.

Conscientiousness includes high levels of thoughtfulness, good self-discipline and goal-directed behaviors. Detail-oriented and organized individuals are usually classified as conscientious.

Of course, many factors play a role in career success. What if the successful spouse is “conscientious” on his or her own, does the spouse’s personality still matter? And what if one spouse doesn't work at all, allowing the other to focus more on his or her career and less on household responsibilites?

The researchers controlled for those factors -- single-income homes versus dual-income homes, a person's own personality traits, and more -- and found that the spouse's personality still influenced career success.

“The benefits of partner personality stems not from doing their spouses’ work but rather creating conditions that allow the spouse to work effectively," the researchers write. “People can benefit at work not just because they are married, but in part because of whom they married.”

If you want to find out which of the "big five" personalities you have take this test.

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