Accountants can't blame the work - they are born dull

American Psychological Association: Number crunchers make bad spouses; why older women can't juggle; flirting with disaster at work
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The legendary dullness of accountants is a product of their personality rather than their work, psychological research suggests.

The legendary dullness of accountants is a product of their personality rather than their work, psychological research suggests.

And the depressing news for the much-ridiculed number crunchers does not end there. Their inability to empathise means they also have thelowest quality of life of all the professions, enduring less fulfilling marriages and having fewer friends than other people. Musicians, artists and teachers have emerged as having a far better quality of life.

Researchers concluded that the key to an accountant's "dullness" is born and not acquired - they choose the career because of their personality.

In a study of people working in a wide range of professions, accountants were revealed as having a lack of "emotional intelligence" that prevents them from being able to read other people's feelings and understand their own. They were also far less expressive about how they felt and did not show extreme happiness or sadness.

Sally Edman, a clinical psychologist, told the American Psychological Association's annual conference in Washington that people in careers such as accounting, maths and computers were much less sensitive to their colleagues' and friends' emotions than people who chose other professions.

"Accountants are much poorer at working out how other people are feeling; they also have very constant moods. This makes them emotionally unintelligent and unfortunately means that they tend to be less interesting than the rest of the population," she said.

"From our research we found that people choose professions they think will suit them so we were not surprised to find that emotionally unintelligent people end up doing similar jobs."

The authors tested the emotional intelligence of 314 people who worked in different professions. They found that artists and actors had the most emotional intelligence, followed by religious people, nurses and English teachers.

Dr Edman found that people who scored higher on the emotional intelligence test had better marriages, sex lives and friendships. Nurses and people who had chosen the "caring" professions were found to be highly sensitive and intuitive people. The findings showed that success at home and at work was directly related to people's ability to understand and respond to other people's feelings.

"If you are not very good at reading how other people are feeling then it has dire consequence on all areas of life, such as the ability to hold down a relationship, with friends and family as well as getting ahead at work," she said.

"Someone who can tell if another person is lying or concerned is much better at getting on with their boss, colleague or potential client."