Optimism and Relationship Problem Solving

It is no surprise that couples face trouble in their romantic relationships. Much of the research on couples’ problem generally focus on conflict in a relationship or specific problems, instead of day-to-day problems and their connection to relationship happiness. Researchers in a new study wanted to investigate the impact of personality types, pessimistic vs optimistic, in dealing with those day-to-day problems and overall relationship happiness.

The study’s sample included 107 heterosexual couples and 5 lesbian couples from the midwestern United States, who were in a romantic relationship and living together for at least 6 months. The average relationship length of the couples was 4.5 years, with an average age of 28.2, and with 66.5% being Caucasian. Participants were asked to take baseline measurements of romantic relationship quality and optimism.

Participants were then asked to take an online survey every day for two weeks, to report their current relationship quality, if they had problems with their partner, what problem they had, and if they solved the problems. The most common issues talked about were everyday life problems (57.1% of all problems discussed), with most of the problems being resolved the same day. Unsurprisingly, the participants daily relationship quality tended to be higher when no problem-solving discussion happened, and lower when a problem wasn’t solved.

One of the main points of the findings showed, optimism or having an optimistic partner did not play a role in the frequency of problem-solving discussions, and they were less likely to discuss problems involving conflict. However, optimism did play a role in the problem solving itself. Results showed that more optimistic participants, or those with optimistic partners, were more likely to have their problems partially or fully resolved. They also had higher daily relationship quality.

The researchers point out limitations with their study. As noted previously, there were only 5 lesbian couples, but no gay couples in the study. The researchers would like to expand on racial and sexual representation in the future. Another limitation, was the sample sizing being from one part of the United States, and thus a broader sample is need for better generalization.


Original Article: https://www.psypost.org/2022/10/new-research-reveals-the-impact-of-optimism-on-problem-solving-in-romantic-relationships-64048

Study: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/02654075221118663

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