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Keywords:

  • optimism;
  • pessimism;
  • providers' perspective;
  • social support

Optimists commonly report a higher availability of supportive others and more received social support than pessimists. However, these results are silent on the question of whether this effect is due to an overly optimistic view on their social environment or whether the social environment actually provides optimists with more support than pessimists. Accordingly, the present study tested in an experimental design whether potential support providers react differently toward optimists, pessimists, and realists. Participants viewed videotaped interactions displaying either an optimistic, pessimistic, or realistic target person. Results show that the personality, the behavior, and the interpersonal attraction of optimists and realists were evaluated more positively than that of pessimists. Nonetheless, participants were equally or even less willing to provide social support to optimists compared to pessimists and realists. Thus, the greater amount of received support reported by optimists possibly represents an optimistically biased perception rather than a veridical reflection of the support they are provided with.