Why disagreeableness (in married men) leads to earning more: a theory and test of social exchange at home

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

June 1, 2022


Research has shown that disagreeableness predicts financial success (especially for men), and this association is attributed to workplace behavior. However, this effect remains puzzling given that disagreeableness is negatively associated with valued workplace behaviors, such as cooperation and prosocial behavior. We theorize that the male disagreeableness premium can be further understood by considering social exchanges at home in which married men are less concerned with and helpful to their wives, especially when harboring traditional gender role attitudes. Such exchanges should allow disagreeable men to demonstrate higher job involvement, resulting in higher pay, especially when their wives demonstrate higher household performance and are highly conscientious. As expected, Study 1 data from 195 married couples indicated that male disagreeableness predicts higher pay as mediated by lower wife-orientation and higher job involvement, and moderated by traditionalism and a wife's household performance (and conscientiousness). In Study 2, we replicated key aspects of our model in a nationally representative sample of 1,558 married couples: Again, disagreeableness in married men predicts higher pay if they are more traditional and their wives are more conscientious. Our findings build on the literature's conventional wisdom (that organizations seem to reward disagreeable workplace behaviors) and highlight the importance of social exchange at home for success at work.

Published in

Personnel Psychology

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 75 , p.383 -410








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