Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 33, Issue 5, pp 399–414

Look on the bright side: do the benefits of optimism depend on the social nature of the stressor?

  • Alexandra L. Terrill
  • John M. Ruiz
  • John P. Garofalo

DOI: 10.1007/s10865-010-9268-6

Cite this article as:
Terrill, A.L., Ruiz, J.M. & Garofalo, J.P. J Behav Med (2010) 33: 399. doi:10.1007/s10865-010-9268-6


Growing evidence suggests that a number of personality traits associated with physical disease risk tend to be social in nature and selectively responsive to social as opposed to non-social stimuli. The current aim was to examine dispositional optimism within this framework. In Study 1, optimism was projected into the Interpersonal Circumplex and Five Factor Model revealing significant interpersonal representation characterized by high control and affiliation. Study 2 demonstrated that higher dispositional optimism attenuated cardiovascular responses to a social (speech) but not non-social stressor (cold pressor) task. Optimism-related attenuation of reactivity to the social vs. non-social stressor contributes further evidence to an emerging picture of psychosocial risk as largely reflecting person × social environment interactions.


Interpersonal Optimism Pessimism Stress Cardiovascular Social 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexandra L. Terrill
    • 1
  • John M. Ruiz
    • 2
  • John P. Garofalo
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyWashington State UniversityPullmanUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of North TexasDentonUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyWashington State UniversityVancouverUSA

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