Motivation and emotion/Book/2018/Hope and emotion

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Hope and emotion
What role does hope play on our emotional lives?

Overview[edit | edit source]

Figure 1. The process of thoughts, emotions and action.

Human beings have inherent characteristics which govern how they think, feel, and act due to their nature and the examination and understanding of human nature is conducted through the science of psychology.  If the basic nature of humans is composed of thoughts, emotions and action then their purpose must also be defined, and their purpose can only be positive and rewarding as life itself is based on a cycle of growth and prosperity. However, life can be unpredictable and disturb a person’s thoughts, emotions and actions into negativity and this can turn these characteristics into stagnation, decay and decline which is the opposite of living. Random events in life cannot be predicted and controlled but through psychology a person’s thoughts, emotions and action can be adapted back to their positive versions so that a person can be content, experience joy and work towards a positive future. Positive thoughts are a necessity when humans face difficulties as it gives hope that their circumstance will change, positive emotions alleviate psychological distress and provide motivation to change the difficult circumstances, and positive actions causes the person to find a way out of their difficult circumstance and towards what they desire that would make them content and their life joyful. The role of a human in dealing with unexpected life events and difficult circumstances is keeping their nature positive which is then necessity[grammar?]. The first impact of difficulty on a person is on their thoughts which may became negative, which leads to negative emotions and in turn to negative action or lack of action. A person can only remain positive through difficulty is by looking towards the opposite of the unexpected nature of life, which is expectation that their life will get better and this brings in the concept of hope. Hope has the power to change negative thoughts, emotions and actions into positive ones.[factual?]

Hope has been prominent to humans since the start of civilisation and has been given prominence and importance throughout history. In ancient Greek mythology, Pandora opened the jar and disseminated all the evils of the world such as pain and suffering, then hastened to close the lid with only hope remained inside. The reason for the preservation of hope is widely debated but the overwhelming theory is that it was left as a benefit for humanity (Beall, 1989) and this is because hope can overcome the effects of the worst experiences or the evils that left the jar in the story of Pandora. The reason for hope being in the jar of evils in the first place is also debated but unless taken from a nihilistic viewpoint, which is again the opposite of the characteristics of humans as defined earlier, the reason hope was left there had to be a positive since Pandora had to carry the jar around with hope still in her possession while she may run into the evils that were now present in the world. In modern psychological science the reason for hope being left in the jar can be proven as a definite positive as we will explore the multitude of evidence in research and studies that show that hope is a crucial factor in the positive reinforcement of thoughts, emotions and actions of human beings. In a psychological context, the evils can be comparable to negative states and since hope is presented as the opposing force, the story implies that even against exceptional difficulties, hope is the solution that can surmount any unexpected and unfortunate circumstance in life and hope is what can bring human nature back into a positive state.

Focus questions

The Science of Hope[edit | edit source]

[Provide and overview of this section first ]

Figure 1. A common visualisation of hope; where a plant grows out of a pavement.

Renowned psychologist Richard Lazarus (1999) described hope as an emotion and a vital coping resource against despair. He defined hope as the belief that something positive, which does not presently represent one’s life, could still materialise, and so individuals are motivated to attaining that goal.The opposite of hope is despair which includes the feeling of hopelessness where an individual believes their desire is unlikely to occur, which leads to emotional disturbance and lack of motivation even if goals exist for the hopeless person (Hadley & MacLeod, 2010), and the feeling of helplessness where an individual believes their situation cannot be overcome and there is no motivation to change their state to reduce their emotional negativity (Rhodewalt, 1994). So if a person is hopeless they will feel negative thoughts, which lead to negative emotions and helplessness, and this in turn will make them unable to do anything that could relieve them of the situation that they are in. The presence of hope has been found to be directly related to positive emotions and emotional well-being (Snyder et al, 1996) and gives strength and resilience against unexpected obstacles that a person can come across in life (Snyder, 2000).

Some common indicators for well-being for people that are generally relatable[say what?] such as success in studies and success in career. Individuals with low hope have been found to fail or underachieve academically even if they have the required interest and skills in their studies (Yoon et al., 2015). Just the thought of hopelessness lead[grammar?] them to be unmotivated to study and they end up manifesting their initial thought about their circumstance. On the other hand having high hope has been found to lead to greater academic performance (Peterson, et al, 2006) regardless of the level of skills and interest in subjects as well as lower rates of dismal from courses even if academic performance is substandard (Snyder, 2002). Of course, just hope will not get a student through their required academic duties and studies, but the factor of hope greatly helps in not only getting higher grades, but in dealing with the stress of school and unexpected negative consequences such as receiving low grades. A student with high hope would have positive thoughts about their academic work, which would lead to the motivation to complete their work, and then give them precedence to act upon whatever it is they need to complete in order to pass their studies.

The second general relatable[say what?] indicator of fulfillment[spelling?] is the workplace and career and it has been found that low hope individuals have been found to under perform at work and not enjoy their jobs and careers (Peterson & Byron, 2007)[Rewrite to improve clarity]. Low hope and hopeless individuals are stuck in a stagnation where their work is not meaningful or enjoyable which leads to negative thoughts, and then negative emotions and finally demotivate to do well at their job[Rewrite to improve clarity]. High hope individuals have been found to excel at their work and careers even if their skills are not outstanding (Combs et al, 2010) as the positive effects of hope leads them to enjoy their work more which in turn leads to their work performance increasing. High hope individuals are found to be better managers as they are better at problem solving and employees are better at overcoming problems that may arise in work whether personal or professional (Peterson & Byron, 2007). A worker with high hope would have positive thoughts about their job, leading to motivation to excel at their career and then lead to better performance which leads them to promotions and better opportunities as well as the bonus of being in a better mental state. If we were to look at this broadly we can see that a person with high hope can excel in school as well as work despite their skill-level, interest and cognitive abilities as the factor of hope has a rippling effect on their natural process of thoughts, emotions and feelings.

While school and work are external factors of happiness, there is abundant evidence that individuals with low or no hope directly correlate with low levels of internal happiness as well effecting emotional well-being as well (Diener, 1984)[awkward expression?]. Emotional distress is one of the main symptoms in psychosomatic illnesses such as depression (Mcdermott & Palmer, 2001; Callahan et al, 1998) and anxiety (Pilkonis et al., 2011; Callahan et al., 1998). Both depression and anxiety change the cyclical human characteristics of thoughts, emotions and actions into their negative essence. A depressed person is likely to be in despair related thoughts, their emotions negative and demotivated and their actions either stagnated or prone to negative actions such as drug use or self-harm (Ennis et al., 1989). Since unexpected life events tend to disturb an individual and depending on the severity of the event, a person may fall into despair and depression; having hope is potentially one of the greatest tools to bringing positivist and balance back into a person's nature and state of being. Hope has been found to increase the emotional well-being of individuals in severely negative situations such as chronic illness with no chance of recovery (Maikranz et al., 2006) and the elderly who are close to death (Beckerman & Northrop, 1996). Hope is so strong in fact that people who are at high risk of suicide due to depression are unlikely to act upon it because of the expectation that their situation will improve (Huen et al., 2015). Hope by itself can lower depression and get people through difficult situations but applying the thought of hope leading to a happier emotion, and then acting in ways that will alleviate a person out of their depression is important.

Hope is intrinsically the main motivator against attaining an absent desire, and desires are in turn goals that people find emotionally fulfilling. A hopeless person is engaging in self-handicapping behavior which hinders success towards their desire while a person feeling helpless cannot be motivated towards their desire. Both aspects of despair can end up becoming a repeating cycle and self-fulfilling prophecy as the lack of motivation leads to not achieving goals that are desired which reinforces helplessness and hopelessness[factual?]. Even in the most helpless and hopeless situations the only way out is to manifest hope into the psyche as that is the only emotion that motivates a person to overcome their circumstance. Whether in school, work or other external goals; or dealing with depression and difficulties there has to be a systematic way of making the process of thoughts, emotions and actions work. Charles Richard Snyder was an American psychologist whose systematic approach to utilising hope is through the acclaimed Hope Theory (2002). He divided hope into four categories which relate to the three human characteristics process of thought, emotion and action discussed throughout this chapter.

Hope Theory[edit | edit source]

[Provide more detail]

Four components of Hope[edit | edit source]

  • Goal: Valuable to the individual and provides direction and an endpoint of desire[grammar?]. This[what?] correlates directly with hope itself as it is the expected result of hopeful thinking and specifically with the thought part of the process. The success of studies, work and getting out of depression or any other hope associated situation depends entirely on creating goals that would change the circumstance of a person. The reason setting goals are important is because attaining them has been found to be directly correlated with positive emotions and emotional well-being (Snyder et al., 1996).
  • Pathway thoughts: Routes taken in achieving the desired goal and the individual's perceived ability to produce these [what?]routes. This correlates with the taction[say what?] part of the three part process of human nature where positive and planned thoughts act as a gateway to attaining the goal.
  • Agency thoughts: Motivation to undergo the process of the pathway thoughts towards the desired goal[grammar?]. This correlates with the emotion and feeling aspect where motivation is the primary factor driving the person towards their goal.
  • Barriers: Obstacles that block the attainment of the goal which leads to either failure (giving up on the goal) or using pathway thoughts to create new routes to achieve the desired goal. The barriers aspect is external to the three part process but deals with hindrances that may occur and how to deal with them so that the process is not interrupted. Obstacles in goal attainment has been found to be associated with subsequent negative emotions (Diener, 1984) so it is important to deal with them and keep hope high. It is interesting to note that Snyder (2000) found that individuals with hope tend to see barriers as obstacles to overcome rather than something that stops their progress in escaping their situation.

Starting from the first process the goal of a student could be to pass their studies, a worker to excel in their career or in negative situations such as depression is to set goals based on hope, but these require subsequent action so pathway thoughts must be utilised in a positive manner and plans as well as commitment to the goal is important[Rewrite to improve clarity]. Agency thoughts are motivations such as a student may want to pass their studies so that they can escape a socio-economic environment they have been brought up in, and the use of agency thoughts would amplify their desire to achieving that goal. For a worker agency should be outlined in a way that also increases whatever their desired goal is, which could be a better job position, better pay or just recognition. For a depressed person agency thoughts require a deeper understanding of emotions and well-being but just the positive implications of attaining a goal can make them focus on a better future rather than focusing on the present negativity they might be experience. Dealing with barriers that occur during goal attainment are natural but persevering through them and making the best use of focusing on goals, keeping positive thoughts, emotions and action persistently and consistently will lead to a goal being achievement. In turn these thoughts, feelings, emotions and actions using Hope Theory as a reference guide can manifest as a positive outcome, all through hope.

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

Aristotle described hope as the dream of a waking man and whether a person is in a positive or negative situation to begin with, following and achieving dreams, or goals, leads to fulfillment and emotional well-being. Further down in history Martin Luther mentions that everything in the world that happens and humans do is due to hope; this notion is evident in the way humans function from eating healthier to get better physically, exercising to get better mentally, studying and working to achieve various goals, to migrating for a better life, to letting their emotions flow to be with someone, to persisting through political and war-related hardships, to dealing with chronic illness and rationally hopeless situations such as death, and this list is endless. From medieval religious teachers to the modern era, the examination of human nature through psychology has repeatedly found hope is the main factor in attaining goals as well as alleviating a person out of stressful and difficult circumstances[factual?]. From the research discussed in this chapter, hope has been shown to not only bring success in different aspects of a person's life, but also be a factor in dealing with depression, stress and unbearable situations such as people close to death[factual?]. As it is human nature to go through the cycle of thoughts, emotions and actions; including hope into these characteristics amplify their essence into a positive[grammar?]. The Hope Theory is an outstanding and simple way of managing the process of hope and integrating it into the general nature of each person and should be utilised to its maximum efficiency[how?]. Hope should always be maintained no matter what situation a person is in as the future becomes the present but the quality of it is based entirely on out expectations. Going back to ancient mythology, the story of Sisyphus can be demonstrated as an entirely hopeless situation where the mythological king was punished by being made to repeatedly push a boulder up a mountain only for it to roll down again. He would repeat this meaningless task endlessly but as the French philosopher Albert Camus exemplifies how in this hopeless and helpless situation the only happiness Sisyphus finds is the hope that this cycle would end even if it is ordained that it would not{{rewrite}. From philosophical contemplation to scientific research hope is renowned as the driving force out of any circumstance but it must be followed through with action, goals and motivation to end in motivational well-being. Hope is the progenitor, emotions the motivator and action the journey to the result and all three should be maintained but the basis of all human functions and decisions is hope[Rewrite to improve clarity].

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Beall, E. (1989). The Contents of Hesiod's Pandora Jar: Erga 94-98. Hermes, 117(2), 227-230. Retrieved from

Beckerman, A. & Northrop, C. (1996). Hope, Chronic Ilness and the Elderly. Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 22(5), 19-25.

Callahan, E.J., Jaen, C.R., Crabtree, B.F., Zyzanski, S.J., Goodwin, M.A., & Strange, K.C. (1998). The impact of recent emotional distress and diagnosis of depression or anxiety on the physician-patient encounter in family practice. Journal of Family Practice, 46(5), 410-418.

Ciarrochi, J., Parker, P., Kashdan, T.B., Heaven, P.C.L, & Barkus, E. (2015) Hope and emotional well-being: A six year study to distinguish antecedents, correlates, and consequences. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 10(6), 520-532.

Combs,G.M., Clapp-Smith, R., & Nadkarni, S. (2010). Managing BPO service workers in India: Examining hope on performance outcomes. Human Resources Management, 49(3), 457-476.

Curry, L.A., Snyder C.R., Cook, D.L., Ruby, B.C., & Rehm, M. (1997). Role of hope in academic and sport achievement. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73(6), 1257-1267.

Diener, E. (1984). Subjective well-being. Psychological Bulletin, 95(1), 542-575.

Ennis, J., Barnes, R.A., Kennedy, S., & Trachtenberg, D.D. (1989). Depression in Self-Harm Patients. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 154(1), 41-47.

Hadley, S.A. & MacLeod, A.K. (2010). Conditional goal-setting, personal goals and hopelessness about the future. Cognition and Emotion, 24(7), 1191-1198.

Huen, J.M.Y., Ip, B.Y.T., Ho, S.M.Y, Yip, P.S.F. (2015). Hope and Hopelessness: The Role of Hope in Buffering the Impact of Hopelessness on Suicidal Ideation. Plos One, 10(6), 1-10.

Langston, D. (2014). What’s Justice got to do with it? International Journal of Philosophy and Theology, 2(4), 45-59.

Lazarus, R.S. (1999). Hope: An Emotion and Vital Coping Resource Against Despair. Social Research, 66(2), 653-678.

Maikranz, J.M., Steele, R.G., Dreyer, M.L., Stratman, A.C., & Bovaird, J.A. (2006) The Relationship of Hope and Illness-Related Uncertainty to Emotional Adjustment Among Pediatric Renal and Liver Transplant Recipients. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 32(5), 571-581.

Mcdermott, B.M. & Palmer, L.J. (2001). Postdisaster emotional distress, depression and event-related variables: findings across child and adolescent development stages. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 36(6), 754-761.

Myers, D.G. (2000). Hope and happiness. In J. Gilham (Ed.), The science of optimism and hope. Radnor, PA: Templeton Foundation Press.

Peterson, S.J. & Byron, K. (2007). Exploring the role of hope in job performance: results from four studies. Journal of Organizational Behaviour, 29(6), 785-803.

Peterson, S.J., Gerhardt, M.W., & Rode, J.C. (2006). Hope, learning goals, and task performance. Personality and Individual Differences, 40(6), 1099-1109.

Peh, C.X., Kua, E.H., & Mahendran, R. (2016). Hope, emotion regulation, and psychosocial well-being in patients newly diagnosed with cancer. Supportive Care in Cancer, 24(5), 1955-1962.

Pilkonis, P.A., Choi, S.W., Reise, S.P., Stover, A.M., Riley, W.T., & Cella, D. (2011). Item Banks for Measuring Emotional Distress From Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS): Depression, Anxiety, and Anger. HHS Public Access., 18(3), 263-283.

Rhodewalt, F. (1994). Conceptions of Ability, Achievement Goals, and Individual Differences in Self-Handicapping Behaviour: On the Application of Implicit Theories. Journal of Personality, 62(1), 67-85.

Snyder, C.R. (2000). Hypothesis: There is Hope. In Snyder, C.R. (Ed.), Handbook of Hope Theory, Measures and Applications (pp.3-21). San Diego: Academic Press.

Snyder, C.R. (2002). Hope Theory: Rainbows in the Mind. Psychological Inquiry, 13(4), 249-275.

Snyder, C.R., Sympson, S.C., Ybasco, F.C., Borders, T.F., Babyak, M.A., & Higgins, R.L. (1996). Development and Validation of the State Hope Scale. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70(2), 321-335.

Stefanis, C.N. & Kokkevi, A. (1986). Depression and Drug Use. Psychopathology, 19(2), 124-131.

Yoong, H.J., In, H., Niles, S.G., Amundson, N.E., Smith, B.A., & Mills, L. (2015). The Effects of Hope on Student Engagement, Academic Performance, and Vocational Identity. The Canadian Journal of Career Development, 14(1), 34-45.

External links[edit | edit source]