Role demand, social problem solving, and optimism, as correlates of well-being in women with multiple roles

Elaine Videtti DiMola, Fordham University


This study examined the relationship of role demand, dispositional optimism, and social problem solving skills to well-being of multiple role women. Multiple roles require managing a high level of demand daily over an extended period. Multiple role women vary in their ability to maintain well-being under the stress of role demands. This study explored factors which might explain the variability. The study's purpose was to determine the extent to which role demand, social problem solving, and optimism explain the variance in well-being of multiple role women. The sample consisted of 90 women who worked at least 20 hours per week at several private and public agencies. Participants filled out an assessment package and returned it directly to the examiner or through the mail. Role demand was measured by number of hours spent completing role responsibilities. Optimism was measured by the Life Orientation Test—Revised. Social Problem Solving was assessed by the Problem Solving Skills Scale of the Social Problem Solving Inventory. Well-being was measured by the Mental Health Inventory, Social Well-being Index, and Symptoms List. Results indicated that optimism explained a significant percentage of the variance in well-being of multiple role women. Role demand as measured in hours was not related to well-being of multiple role women, however, perceptions of role overload were negatively correlated with well-being and perceptions of reward were positively correlated with well-being. Social problem solving did not explain any variance in well-being beyond optimism. Unexpected was the finding that time spent within the marriage role was significantly and positively related to well-being. The multiple role women in this study were more distressed than a normative sample of men and women. The findings supported research suggesting that the multiple role experience is one of stress and reward occurring simultaneously, each experience relatively independent of the other, and that general disposition toward positive or negative outlook and perceptions about the role demand are the more significant factors determining well-being. Implications of these findings for counseling and research of multiple role women were presented as well as suggestions for future research.

Subject Area

Personality|Womens studies|Psychotherapy

Recommended Citation

DiMola, Elaine Videtti, "Role demand, social problem solving, and optimism, as correlates of well-being in women with multiple roles" (2001). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3021698.