Have you ever wondered how an individual’s professional life can be an indicator of his or her love life? Does having an extramarital affair hints at you having a not-so-good set of professional ethics? If not this, does your colleague who likes to flout office rules every other day more likely to be breaking the social norms as well? Well, the answer to these questions might be subjective for you but science seems to have come down to a conclusion.

A recent study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests a strong correlation between personal infidelity and professional misconduct. The researchers opine that a person who cheats on his or her spouse is more likely to engage in professional misconduct in the workplace. The list of misconduct included complaints by co-workers, financial misstatements, insider trading, Ponzi schemes, and other types of fraud.

The researchers looked into the records of around 11,325 participants who were the users marital infidelity site Ashley Madison. These people belonged to varied professional backgrounds including police officers, financial advisors, senior executives, CEOs, CFOS and also those who were white-collar criminals. The study found that Ashley Madison users, studied in professional settings, were more than twice as likely to engage in corporate misconduct.

We asked renowned psychologist Rachana Awatramani her take on these findings and she explained, “There is a high possibility that a person who cheats on his or her partner can engage in professional misconduct as well. Cheating can be considered breaking of a social norm and indicates an individual’s state of mind. If his mind has got conditioned in a way that he or she sees nothing wrong in breaking such rules, then the person possesses the skills to do the same in professional life as well.”

Rachana talks about one of her clients where a call-centre professional in his twenties was dating two people at the same time. “He had approached to seek professional help because he felt his personal life had become a mess. One of his partners had started doubting him, and he later confessed how he was equally entangled with the issues in his office because of his poor conduct.”

Interestingly, the study also supported the idea that eliminating instances of workplace sexual misconduct would also help companies tackle fraudulent activities. “Our results show that personal sexual conduct is correlated with professional conduct. Eliminating sexual misconduct in the work place could have the extra benefit of contributing to more ethical corporate cultures in general,” said researcher Samuel Kruger from the University of Texas.

Well, many of us assume that a person can have different personalities in personal and professional life. For instance, maybe that colleague who cracks office-inappropriate jokes or probably flirts with others in office is actually a super loyal partner in personal life. But going by the findings of this study, the difference between a person’s personal and professional behaviour might be almost non-existent.

(With inputs from IANS)