Optimism in close relationships: How seeing things in a positive light makes them so

Sanjay Srivastava, Kelly M. McGonigal, Jane M. Richards, Emily A. Butler, James J. Gross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

145 Scopus citations


Does expecting positive outcomes - especially in important life domains such as relationships - make these positive outcomes more likely? In a longitudinal study of dating couples, the authors tested whether optimists (who have a cognitive disposition to expect positive outcomes) and their romantic partners are more satisfied in their relationships, and if so, whether this is due to optimists perceiving greater support from their partners. In cross-sectional analyses, both optimists and their partners indicated greater relationship satisfaction, an effect that was mediated by optimists' greater perceived support. When the couples engaged in a conflict conversation, optimists and their partners saw each other as engaging more constructively during the conflict, which in turn led both partners to feel that the conflict was better resolved 1 week later. In a 1-year follow-up, men's optimism predicted relationship status. Effects of optimism were mediated by the optimists' perceived support, which appears to promote a variety of beneficial processes in romantic relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-153
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2006


  • Close relationships
  • Optimism
  • Perceived support
  • Relationship satisfaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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