Optimism and its effect on romantic relationships



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Texas Tech University


Two studies examined the role of an optimistic or pessimistic outlook on life in romantic relationships. Study I proposed that two optimistic partners will have a more satisfying relationship than either an optimist and a pessimist, or two pessimists. In addition, it was hypothesized that the two optimists would predict that they will be together longer and be more successful at conflict resolution than would the other two partner combinations. It was also hypothesized that two pessimists would be the least successful at conflict resolution and that they would predict that they will be together for the least amount of time, as compared to two optimists or to an optimist and a pessimist. Also, an optimist and a pessimist will be more successful at conflict resolution when the optimist is a female and the pessimist is a male.

The results generally found that optimist-optimist couples exhibited the highest satisfaction, and solved conflicts using integrating and obliging conflict strategies. The optimist-pessimist couples were less satisfied than the optimist-optimist couples, but more satisfied than the pessimist-pessimist couples. The pessimistpessimist couples were thus the least satisfied. They solved conflicts by using dominating conflict tactics, results offering only partial support for the hypotheses. Optimists, as individuals, perceived that they would be together longer than pessimists.

The second study attempted to determine whether optimists and pessimists prefer to be in romantic relationships with people sharing their same optimistic or pessimistic outlook on life, or if they would rather be with an optimist, since that quality is socially desirable. Results suggested that people tended to prefer the optimist, regardless of their own optimism level, lending support for one of the research questions. Pessimists did rate the pessimistic stimulus person more favorably than did optimists. People tended to prefer similar others as friends, lending support to the literature on friendship in social psychology, but optimists were preferred to pessimists in general as romantic partners.



Interpersonal relations -- Psychological aspects, Attitude (Psychology) -- Research, Mate selection, Pessimism, Optimism