It has been presumed that the beneficial health effects of optimism are mediated by social support provided by the social network. This study aims to examine the basic underlying assumption that optimists, pessimists, and realists elicit different social responses. Participants (N = 168) were asked to read transcripts of conversations in which optimistic, pessimistic, and realistic targets reported how they were dealing with a stressful situation. Afterwards they completed 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. Regarding the evaluation of behavior and personality as well as perceived interpersonal attraction, optimistic and realistic targets were viewed more favorably than pessimistic targets. 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. Thus, the relation between optimism and health may not merely be mediated by social support provided by the network, but also by the expression of social approval.

optimism, pessimism, realism, social attraction, social support, support provider, Optimismus, Pessimismus, Realismus, Sympathie, soziale Unterstützung, Geberperspektive,
Zeitschrift für Gesundheitspsychologie
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Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management (ESHPM)

Vollmann, M, Renner, B, Matiba, K, & Weber, H. (2007). Unterschiedliche Wertschätzung, aber gleiche Unterstützungsbereitschaft. European Journal of Health Psychology, 15, 168–176. doi:10.1026/0943-8149.15.4.168