Optimism and pessimism in social context: An interpersonal perspective on resilience and risk

Timothy W. Smith*, John M. Ruiz, Jenny M. Cundiff, Kelly G. Baron, Jill B. Nealey-Moore

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Using the interpersonal perspective, we examined social correlates of dispositional optimism. In Study 1, optimism and pessimism were associated with warm-dominant and hostile-submissive interpersonal styles, respectively, across four samples, and had expected associations with social support and interpersonal stressors. In 300 married couples, Study 2 replicated these findings regarding interpersonal styles, using self-reports and spouse ratings. Optimism-pessimism also had significant actor and partner associations with marital quality. In Study 3 (120 couples), husbands' and wives' optimism predicted increases in their own marital adjustment over time, and husbands' optimism predicted increases in wives' marital adjustment. Thus, the interpersonal perspective is a useful integrative framework for examining social processes that could contribute to associations of optimism-pessimism with physical health and emotional adjustment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)553-562
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Research in Personality
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2013


  • Interpersonal circumplex
  • Marital quality
  • Optimism
  • Pessimism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • General Psychology


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