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Who Would Have Guessed? This Comic’s Routine Has Research to Back It Up

My wife showed me this video the other day:

It’s a funny routine in which the comic, Tim Hawkins, notes that after 20 years of marriage he has finally found out what his wife really wants from him.

Well as it turns out, it’s not only funny, it looks like it’s true.

Two Candadian researchers, Alyson Byrne and Julian Barling, recently published an article, “When She Brings Home the Job Status: Wives’ Job Status, Status Leakage, and Marital Instability“, in Organization Science that looked at whether women’s high status careers affect marital stability, and if so, why.

While I won’t go into all of the details of the study, a couple results are relevant to the comedy routine above.

The researchers found that wives who believed they held higher status positions than their husbands were more likely to experience feelings of resentfulness or embarrassment, feeling that their status was decreased by their husbands’ lower status position, which in turn had a negative impact on their marital satisfaction — and even increased the likelihood that they were thinking about divorce.

However, when wives felt that their husbands provided them with high levels of instrumental support, such as helping with domestic responsibilities or child and elder care, holding higher status positions than their husbands was not associated with marital instability. This was not the case if their partner simply provided emotional support, suggesting that it is the tangible support that husbands provide to higher job status wives that matters more. We suspect that providing this type of tangible support not only allows wives to focus on their careers, but also denotes respect.

I wonder if Byrne and Barling ever caught Hawkins’ act, and that is what inspired them to do the research. Or is possible that Hawkins reads academic articles for fun, and incorporates the results into his act?

I guess we’ll never know, but I do know that I’ll be busy vacuuming tomorrow…

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Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

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