It has been presumed that the beneficial health effects of optimism are mediated by social support provided by the social environment. To further analyze this assumption, in two experiments (N ¼ 240 and N ¼ 120) social responses toward optimists, pessimists, and realists were examined. Participants listened to tape-recorded conversations in which optimistic, pessimistic and realistic targets reported how they were dealing with a stressful situation before completing a questionnaire assessing (a) their evaluation of the target’s behavior and personality, (b) their attraction to the target, and (c) their willingness to provide the target with social support. Optimistic and realistic targets were viewed more favorably than pessimistic targets, while the behavior of realists was regarded as being more adequate than that of optimists. However, the more positive evaluation of optimists and realists compared to pessimists was not accompanied by a greater willingness to provide them with social support.

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The Journal of Positive Psychology
Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management (ESHPM)

Vollmann, M., Renner, B., & Weber, H. (2007). Optimism and social support: the providers' perspective. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 2, 205–215. doi:10.1080/17439760701409660