Home life sounds way better with a conscientious spouse than with a jerk, doesn't it? As it turns out, marrying a conscientious person may help you make more money, too.
That's according to a new study, which found a connection between having a conscientious spouse and a higher likelihood of pay increases, job promotions and generally just being more satisfied at work. The study from Washington University in St. Louis will be published in Psychological Science.
"Conscientious" people, according to how the Washington University researchers measured it, follow rules, work hard and are reliable, predictable and able to control their impulses. You know, the sort of people who also make for great employees and co-workers.
The study's findings may have broader implications when it comes to picking partners, said Joshua Jackson, an assistant professor at Washington University.
"This might be something to suggest that people maybe should be attuned to these conscientious, more dorky, not-as-lively-or-exciting-because-they’re-rule-following people," said Jackson, the study's lead author. "There's something to say in terms of the characteristics you should look for in a mate. This might not be the most obvious, but it's important."
The findings come from a five-year study of nearly 5,000 married people in Australia between the ages of 19 and 83. In three-fourths of the couples, both spouses work.
Researchers measured personality traits and work status and found a connection between people with more conscientious spouses — regardless of whether the spouse worked or not — and job promotions, pay increases and job satisfaction.
There are a few reasons for that, Jackson said. For one, conscientious partners are more likely to help with day-to-day tasks, making it easier for their spouses to focus on work. Rather than just leaning in, they're leaning on.
"You have someone to kind of lean on, someone you can rely on to do chores, or to do other kind of activities around the household so you're not doing everything," Jackson said.
Such spouses are also more likely to be conscientious at work, too, and this can have an emulating effect on their partners, he said; that kind of work ethic is seen as normal. "Someone who's working really hard at their career, and is invested, it rubs off on you," Jackson said. "Working late one night makes it more possible for you to do that, as opposed to vegging out on the couch."
Lastly, having such a reliable partner means you're more likely to have a happy relationship — and the emotional benefits of having a happy marriage do spill over into being more satisfied at work, Jackson said.
So, look, next time you're on a date, don't write off the boring rule-follower so quickly. You may be writing off career advancement, too.