How Do Hope and Optimism Benefit our Relationships?

Bi-directional Links in Trust Between Partners

  • Psychology

Principal Investigators

Margaret S. Clark
John M. Musser Professor of Psychology
Yale University
Research Team Members
Elizabeth Clark-Polner
University of Chicago
William Cunningham
University of Toronto


When people think about hope and optimism, they tend to think about it on the individual level – what do I believe, about things that will happen to me? The benefits of a positive outlook might be even more powerful, though, when we think about how it operates interpersonally – what do I think you believe, about things that will happen to us? Examining how hope and optimism impact our relationships is important not only because it may broaden our understanding of what hope and optimism really mean, but also because the quantity and quality of our social connections have been shown to be one of the most important factors influencing well-being, and any variable that might help us improve these connections would thus be of significant importance to public health. Here we outline a set of five research questions relating to social hope and optimism, and our plan for addressing them.