Interpersonal benefits of optimistic expectations: Overriding negative responses to partner withdrawal?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Optimism can be seen as an enduring strength in marriage. It provides spouses with a broader and more flexible range of behavioral options and helps them to successfully navigate stressful situations. Optimism is characterized by a positive attitude toward the future and by positive expectations. While a positive attitude toward the future may benefit adaptation, merely holding positive expectations may lead to disappointment and inflexible responding to daily challenges. Using questionnaires and diaries from 103 couples, this study examines how spouses respond to situations where the partner prefers being alone at the end of a workday. We investigated whether and how optimism, and two components of positive expectations, the overall level of and the flexibility, shape these responses. Findings showed that perceived partner withdrawal was associated with less positive and more negative reported behaviors. Optimism buffered this effect above and beyond the effect of positive expectations. Expectation levels indicated no buffering and even a tendency to more negative and less positive reactions. Finally, and unexpectedly, expectation flexibility had no effect on partners’ reported negative behaviors, and was even associated with less positive reported responses to the partner’s withdrawal. Implications for the theoretical understanding of optimism and expectations, as well as for intervention, will be discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLinking technology and psychology: feeding the mind, energy for life
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventThe 14th European Congress of Psychology - Milano -- ITA
Duration: 7 Jul 201510 Jul 2015


ConferenceThe 14th European Congress of Psychology
CityMilano -- ITA


  • Couple
  • Optimism
  • Withdrawal


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