Optimism, relationship quality, and problem solving discussions: A daily diary study

Katelin E. Leahy, Deborah A. Kashy, M. Brent Donnellan, Jeewon Oh, Kimberly K. Hardy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Problem solving is a necessary part of all successful relationships. The current study examined how naturally occurring day-to-day problem solving discussions were related to daily reports of relationship quality. In addition, we investigated whether optimism was associated with the nature and occurrence of these problems and moderated the association between problem solving discussions and relationship quality. Multilevel modeling was applied to data from 112 couples who completed daily diaries over 14 days (M age = 28.2, 95.5% heterosexual, 66.5% White). Relationship quality was higher on days when couples did not report a problem discussion, when couples reported at least somewhat solving the problem they discussed, and when the problem discussion did not involve conflict. More optimistic individuals and individuals with more optimistic partners were more likely to resolve problems, less likely to discuss problems specifically about their relationship, and less likely to have problem discussions involving conflict on days when problem discussions occurred. Individuals with partners who were high in optimism reported relatively high relationship quality regardless of whether a problem discussion occurred, whereas those with partners low in optimism reported significantly lower quality on days when such a discussion took place.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)528-550
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Romantic relationships
  • daily diary
  • optimism
  • problem solving

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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