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Keywords:

  • optimism;
  • pessimism;
  • perceived stress;
  • social support;
  • support provider;
  • support recipient

Abstract

Using a dyadic design, this longitudinal study with 85 couples examined whether the stress buffering effect of optimism is due to an actual higher availability of social support or to positive illusions about available social support by taking simultaneously the recipients' and the providers' perspective on social support into account. At baseline, optimism and social support from the recipients' and the providers' perspective were assessed. Perceived stress was measured at 3 months follow-up. Actor–Partner Interdependence Models showed that optimism was prospectively related to lower stress. Social support from the recipients', but not from the providers' perspective, partially mediated this relationship. The results suggest that optimists hold positive illusions about available support and that these illusions account at least partly for the stress buffering effect. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.