The Real Impact Your Partner Has on Your Career, According to Harvard

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AnnaMarie Houlis4.87k
Journalist & travel blogger
April 18, 2024 at 10:51AM UTC
Your personal relationships play a significant part in your career success, according to research from the Harvard Business Review. In fact, there's one major quality in your spouse's personality that really affects your career.
Andrew O'Connell, a contributing editor at the Harvard Business Review, looked at two studies to come to this conclusion. One study finds that people spend more time at work when their love lives are happy and healthy, thanks to greater emotional stability that allows them to better focus on their daily responsibilities. 
Meanwhile, the second study explores personality traits in partners that bear the heaviest on people's work lives. In this study, Brittany Solomon and Joshua Jackson of Washington University in St. Louis look at data from thousands of coupled Australian households. The data shows both partners' income, any promotions, their overall job satisfaction and five of their personality traits: extroversion, agreeableness, neuroticism, conscientiousness and openness.
While just one of these partner personality traits was found to affect people's long-term performance at work, the affect is significant. That personality trait is conscientiousness.
That's right: The conscientiousness of one's partner largely predicts their income, promotions and job satisfaction. For both genders.
So how significant is the effect? For every one-standard-deviation increase in a partner's conscientiousness, an employee earns about $4,000 more annually. This is regardless of age or occupation.
Why? Well, a conscientious partner takes on their fair share of household duties, leaving their partner with equal or more time to focus on their work. Conscientiousness makes for a happier relationship, and we know from the first study that, when people are happy in their relationships and thus more emotionally stable, they can and tend to spend more time at work. And, finally, people tend to emulate their conscientious partners, which can help them in the workplace, as well, keeping them efficient and organized.
Conscientiousness can be defined as "governed by conscience; controlled by or done according to one's inner sense of what is right; principled," as well as "careful and painstaking; particular; meticulous; scrupulous." 
Practicing conscientiousness in your relationship can help your partner succeed. And, if they're not already conscientious, they may learn to emulate your personality trait to have the same impact on your own career.

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AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog,, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreport and Facebook.

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