Capitalizing on everyday positive events uniquely predicts daily intimacy and well-being in couples coping with breast cancer

Amy K. Otto, Jean Philippe Laurenceau, Scott D. Siegel, Amber J. Belcher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Capitalization is the relational process of savoring positive life events by sharing them with responsive relationship partners. The purpose of the present study was to use dyadic intensive longitudinal methods to examine novel hypotheses regarding links between capitalization processes and daily intimacy and well-being in women with breast cancer and their intimate partners. Although couples coping with cancer often experience an increase in negative daily life events, we hypothesized that it would be important for them to share and capitalize on positive events in addition to sharing negative events. Female patients with early stage breast cancer and their intimate partners (99 couples) completed electronic daily diaries for 7 to 10 consecutive days tapping everyday processes of sharing negative and positive events with each other. Dyadic multilevel process modeling revealed that on days when capitalization attempts (i.e., sharing the best event of the day) occurred, daily feelings of intimacy in the sharer were higher for both patients and partners. Moreover, greater perceived partner responsiveness to capitalization attempts was associated with increases in the sharer's daily feelings of intimacy and decreases in the sharer's daily negative affect. When the patient's partner was the sharer, perceived partner responsiveness also was associated with increased daily positive affect. More important, all effects of capitalization were observed above and beyond the effects of event positivity and sharing negative events (i.e., social support attempts). Findings suggest that, even in the midst of significant life adversity, sharing daily good news with intimate partners enhances relationship well-being independently of sharing bad news.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-79
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Family Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 American Psychological Association.


  • Breast cancer
  • Capitalization
  • Daily events
  • Intimacy
  • Marriage


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