Married men earning more, less helpful with domestic chores

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Married men who don’t help out around the house tend to bring home bigger paychecks than husbands who play a bigger role on the domestic chores front, according to a study.

The study led by University of Notre Dame in Indiana, US, showed that “disagreeable” men in opposite-sex marriages are less helpful with domestic work, enabling them to preserve more time and energy at home, which they can invest into their work and earn more.

In contemporary psychology, “agreeableness” is one of the “Big Five” dimensions used to describe human personality. It generally refers to someone who is warm, sympathetic, kind and cooperative. Disagreeable people do not tend to exhibit these characteristics, and they tend to be more self-interested and competitive.

“Across two studies, we find evidence that disagreeable men tend to earn more money relative to their more agreeable male counterparts because they are more self-interested and less helpful to their wives at home, which allows for greater job involvement and, ultimately, higher pay,” said lead author Brittany Solomon, management professors at Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business.

“This effect is even stronger among disagreeable men with more traditional gender role attitudes and when their wives are highly conscientious, presumably because in these cases their wives take on more household management and more seamlessly carry out the responsibilities,” Solomon added.

However, the team found that disagreeableness does not predict career success for more egalitarian men, those whose wives are less conscientious or any men outside opposite-sex marriages.

“While disagreeableness in the workplace may lead some employees to success, those hoping to attain higher pay should at least hesitate before leaning into a disagreeable workplace persona,” Solomon cautioned.

“Indeed, if self-interested and less communal work behaviour was the only key to higher pay, then disagreeable men would tend to earn more, regardless of whether they were married, how they viewed gender roles or to whom they were married,” Solomon said.

Further, the research suggests that organisations acknowledge the role that spousal exchange plays in individual success and points to the potential for organisations to refocus efforts to fuel job involvement on lightening the burden of at-home responsibilities. Doing so could allow employees to preserve resources that could then be invested in their jobs, the team said.

The findings are forthcoming in the journal Personnel Psychology.

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