Not too satisfied with your relationship with your spouse? The direction of travel when commuting to work could be the culprit. Research has found that couples were more satisfied with their relationship when they travelled to work in the same direction, and this was regardless of whether they left for work at the same time. So consider this when buying a house with your partner in the future.
Researchers at The Chinese University of Hong Kong surveyed working couples in the United States and Hong Kong and found evidence for the shared-direction effect—”mere similarity in the direction of commuting to work increases marital satisfaction.” Crucially, several other factors such as the number of years married, number of children, and income were not related to marital satisfaction.
In another experiment, each of twenty pairs of unacquainted undergraduate students were told that they would be discussing with their partners the issue of improving university services. However, before that, they had to participate in a study that was studying how physical exercise influences product evaluations. Participants were also told that they had to perform the exercises in different rooms to avoid interfering with one another. The directions and routes taken by participants when they walked to their designated rooms were varied to test the shared-direction effect.
After completing the task, participants had to indicate how satisfied they were with their partners. Even though these pairs had only been briefly acquainted, those who walked in the same direction indicated that they were more happy with their partners than those who had walked in different directions.
Participants were also asked to rate how much they thought they would enjoy the discussion and similar findings were obtained—those who had walked in the same direction expected the task to be more enjoyable.
This experiment eliminated many other factors that could increase marital satisfaction among couples who reported travelling in the same direction to work can be eliminated. For instance, travelling in the same direction meant that couples could meet after work for meals or entertainment. Therefore, it seems that the shared-direction effect is genuine, since even randomly paired participants under experimental conditions showed increased liking when they walked in the same direction.
Sometimes, literally going your way and my way can really lead to couples going separate ways eventually. What do you think of this? Share you comments below.
Huang, X., Dong, P., Dai, X., & Wyer, R. S. (2012). Going my way? The benefits of travelling in the same direction. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48(4), 978–981. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2012.02.021