Motivation and emotion/Book/2019/Hope and emotion

From Wikiversity
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Hope and emotion:
What role does hope play in our emotional lives?

Overview[edit | edit source]

Case study

Calvin was a successful finance business employee and a single parent of two daughters. At 61 years of age, Calvin was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. As a result, Calvin had to retire early and move into a nursing home, where he has no independence and is rarely able to see his daughters. Due to his condition, Calvin feels tired all the time and feels like he has nothing to look forward to. When the nurses ask him how he is feeling, he explains how hopeless his life seems. By nurturing Calvin’s goals and instilling hope back into his life, he may once again have a high sense of well-being, the ability to cope with future stressful events and have a better quality of life.

Figure 1. Sun rays through dark clouds represent hope in difficult times.

Throughout history, hope has been well-recognised as a vital human resource, especially in conquering major struggles experienced throughout an individuals'[grammar?] lifetime (Magnano, Di Nuovo, Scioli & Di Corrado, 2019). Hope has been used extensively in popular culture (see figure 1.) and modern psychological science. These areas include motivational speaking, academic performance, and in personal recovery. However, a comprehensive literature summary has not been developed.

The purpose of this chapter is to cultivate a practical and theoretical understanding of hope in the lives of those who are physically and psychologically struggling, and how this can positively impact their emotional well-being. To begin, the current understanding of hope through psychological theory will be outlined. Secondly, an exploration of the mechanisms behind hope and emotion based on current empirical research. Lastly, an introduction to concepts that may help people uncover hope in their daily lives.

How can theory and research on hope optimise the emotional well-being of individual's who are physically and psychologically unwell?

Hope theory[edit | edit source]

Hope theory, developed by C.R. Snyder, is a model composed of two processes. These processes detail hope as a positive motivational state, based on a combination of agency thinking (goal-directed motivation) and pathway thinking (production of plausible routes to desired goals) (Snyder, 2002). Hope was labelled by Snyder (2002) as, “primarily a way of thinking, with feelings playing an important, albeit contributory role” (p. 249). Hopeful thinking is characterised by an individual centring an imagined, future-oriented, but a valuable target to achieve (Gallagher & Lopez, 2018). This value can vary, with higher valued goals playing a meaningful and substantial role in the goal-setters life, whereas less valued goals having a higher tendency to be discarded. Lastly, hope theory emphasises the importance of thought processes in comparison to emotions (Gallagher & Lopez, 2018). Emotions play a role in feedback; positive emotions indicate progress or success and negative emotions indicate failure (Snyder, 2002).

Goals[edit | edit source]

Hope theory assumes that goals guide the basis of human action. These desired goals can be divided into two general types: positive and negative goal outcomes (see table 1.). However, other theorists have explained the role of goals in a different light, for example, Lazarus (1999) proposed, “A fundamental condition of hope is that our current life circumstance is unsatisfactory – that is, it involves deprivation or is damaging or threatening” (p. 654). According to Snyder (2002), enhancement goals and maintenance goals make up two important categories of hope. Those goals that direct an individual to alleviate from their satisfactory life to something greater can be described as enhancement goals by the Lazarus (1999) definition. Alternatively, maintenance goals are described as everyday agendas.

Table 1. The Two Types of Goals in Hope Theory.
Type 1 - Positive goal outcome Type 2 - Negative goal outcome
A. Envisioning a goal for the first time A. Expiring a goal for the fear of a negative goal outcome
B. Sustaining the envisioned goal B. Delaying a goal due to the unwanted outcome
C. The desire to continue pursuing a goal after progress

Agency thinking[edit | edit source]

The first process described by hope theory was agency thought, which was defined as the motivational component to utilise and continue the pathway towards the desired goal (Snyder, 2002). This process holds importance when an individual encounters’ an obstacle or barrier during a stage of goal pursuit. It has been found high-hope individuals typically embrace self-talk dialogue, such as, “I can do this” and “I am not going to be stopped” (see figure 2.) (Snyder et al., 1998).

Pathway thinking[edit | edit source]

Pathway thinking, the second process described in hope theory, explains the tendency of humans to approach goals with thoughts on how to reach them (Snyder, 2002). According to hope theory, an individual who has high levels of hope would approach the desired goal with a plausible means or pathway to attain that goal. Additionally, those high-hope persons would perceive their pathways with certainty and decisiveness. For example, affirming internal phrases like, “I’ll find a way to get this done”, would be fitting for someone with high hope (see figure 2.) (Snyder, Lapointe, Crowson, & Early, 1998).

Figure 2. Examples of Snyder's Hope Theory: Agency and pathway thinking.

How does hope influence our emotional lives?[edit | edit source]

Following these characteristics of hope theory, several hypotheses have been outlined to understand the role and application of hope in day-to-day life (Gallagher & Lopez, 2018). These hypotheses have led to extensive research on how hope influences different age groups, socioeconomic background, ethnic and diverse cultural groups. Also, the role of hope in psychological distress, such as cancer, sports injuries and, mental illnesses.

Psychological well-being[edit | edit source]

Figure 3. Psychological literature has found individuals who work tend to have higher levels of reported hope compared to non-workers.

The concept of well-being in psychological literature has been discussed with variations among terms and definitions. According to Demirli, Türkmen and Arık (2014), there are two main ideas: hedonism and eudaimonism. Hedonism reflects positive and negative emotions (subjective well-being), whereas eudaimonism describes psychological functioning (psychological well-being) (Deci & Ryan, 2006). A study by Demirli, Türkmen and Arık (2014) aimed to close the gap in the literature surrounding hope, life satisfaction and subjective well-being of diverse cultural groups. The participants consisted of 881 university undergraduate students in Turkey (653 female, 228 male) between the ages of 17 and 28 and with a mean age of 20.8 years. Results found that, in general, people with higher dispositional hope and state hope experienced fewer negative emotions. Thus, those who set realistic goals were motivated to achieve those goals and developed alternative pathways had higher positive emotions.

A younger age group consisting of adolescents from three secondary schools in Hong Kong were recruited to understand the mediating role of hope and psychosocial well-being (Yeung, Ho & Mak, 2015). The sample consisted of 712 students (54.5% males, 45.5% female) with a mean age of 15.19 years. The measures included The Children’s Hope Scale (Snyder et al., 1997) and The Attention to Positive and Negative Information Scale (Noguchi, Gohm & Dalsky, 2006). Results demonstrated hope was positively associated with Attention to Positive Information, but no correlation with Attention to Negative Information was found. This may be explained by the greater emphasis of dialectical thinking typical of Chinese culture[explain?].

A study by Dilmaç and Kocaman (2019) examined the relationships between hope and psychological well-being on 448 adults between the ages of 20 and 50 years (64.7% female, 35.3% male) living in Istanbul. Using The Integrative Hope Scale, developed by Schrank, Woppmann, Sibitz and Lauber (2010), results found hope was higher between the ages of 31 and 50 years, in comparison to those between 20 and 30 years of age. Differences in marital status and hope were found, with those who identified as single having lower levels of hope compared to married participants. Lastly, those who had a job compared to non-working participants experienced higher levels of hope (see figure 3.).

Similar research has focused on an older age group, with a positive relationship between well-being and hope in a sample of older adults (Davis, 2005). The Hearth Hope Index (Hearth, 1992) and The Index of Well-Being (Campbell, Converse, & Rodgers, 1976) were administered among a sample of 130 participants (15% male, 85% female) aged from 62 to 89 with a mean of 76.5 years. This study made important and applicable recommendations for nurses to foster hope in older adults. In a later study by Anila and Dhanalakshmi (2014), a sample of 100 elderly participants (47 male, 53 women) reported well-being and hope using The Well-Being Index (World Health Organization, 1998) and The Adult Hope Scale (Snyder, Harris, Anderson & Holleran, 1991). Results showed participants had higher levels of reported hope, which was attributed to their environment (being non-institutionalised), congenial family, and consistent and reliable interpersonal relationships with those family members.

Example: Hope-promoting interventions for clinicians in older adults (Herth & Cutcliffe, 2002)

To inspire hope, developing interpersonal relationships with patients and clients, which are founded on kindness and continuous. This may be developed through the educational settings in which nurses and clinicians may foster these skills. Apart from institutional rapports, family and friends are vital, therefore encouraging their presence may bring a sense of belongingness to the individual. Furthermore, Herth and Cutcliffe suggest active, passive and meaningful activities in settings, such as long-term care facilities, assisted living homes or senior citizen centres. Lastly, educating patients and clients on relaxation techniques including meditation, reminiscence therapy, and problem-focused coping strategies to manage any potential stress or stressful events.

Psychological distress[edit | edit source]

The hope construct has been used as a predictor for positive outcomes, such as greater life satisfaction (Werner, 2012). Hence, several studies have examined the correlation between hope and quality of life (QoL) with people suffering from severe mental illnesses. One of these studies focused on a sample of 98 outpatients at a community mental health centre (Irving et al., 2004). These participants were predominantly female (69% female, 31% male) and from the ages of 20 to 40 years. Results found those who reported higher levels of hope had a greater ability to regulate unhelpful emotions and deal with stress. In addition, fewer psychiatric symptoms and greater well-being was also found with higher reported hope levels. A later study conducted in Israel revealed the relationship between hope and patients diagnosed with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorders (Hasson-Ohayon, Kravetz, Meir & Rozencwaig, 2009). The sample consisted of 60 participants receiving treatment and rehabilitation services in central Israel (50% female, 50% male) with a mean age of 42.57 years. Results suggested greater QoL could be achieved through increasing hope. A similar study in Israel found comparable results across schizophrenia, affective disorders, personality disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorders (Werner, 2012).

In addition to positive findings of hope on mental disorders, its impact on physical illnesses and disabilities has been a topic for psychological exploration. One of these studies examined the relationship of hope with spiritual well-being, religious well-being, and existential well-being among a sample of adolescents diagnosed with cancer (Hendricks-Ferguson, 2008). Findings demonstrated high levels of hope continued over time with no significant differences between time since diagnosis. These results demonstrate the potential of hope as a protective function throughout distressing experiences. Alternatively, an exploration on injuries; a significant detrimental experience for athletes,[grammar?] was conducted on hope and social support during rehabilitation (Lu & Hsu, 2013). This study recruited 224 college student athletes in Taiwan who had sustained at least one sport injury (46.42% male, 53.57% female) with a mean age of 20.02 years. Using The Adult Hope Scale (Snyder, Harris, Anderson & Holleran, 1991) and The Satisfaction With Life Scale (Diener, Emmons, Larson & Griffin, 1985), hope agency predicted helpful rehabilitation behaviour and beliefs. Other research has focused on how to approach helping individuals diagnosed with various diseases. In particular, a study by Koopman, LeBlanc, Fowler, Nicolle and Hulley (2016) consisted of 100 participants diagnosed with either generalised myasthenia gravis or ocular myasthenia gravis (57% male, 43% female) with a mean age of 61.06 years. Findings suggested hope related positively to coping, perceived QoL, and physical and social well-being. Other conclusions included recognising hope as a coping strategy and the level of hope and ability to have independence were significant factors for the effectiveness of coping.

Test your knowledge!

1 Which is not an element of hope theory?


2 How many types of goals are defined in hope theory?


3 Based on psychological research, what has hope been positively correlated with? (tick all that apply)

Quality of life
Physical and social well-being
Drug abuse

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

It has been suggested in psychological theory and research that hope has a defined cognitive presence in everyday life. Being hopeful can evoke positive and meaningful emotions regarding an individual’s ability to cope and succeed. Hope has also been conceptualised to influence those struggling physically or psychologically. The proposed model of hope theory emphasises the role of goal pursuit and achievement through agency and pathway thinking and recognises the role of emotion as a feedback loop. As a result, hope can be manifested based on individual needs and desires but with the support and congenial environment to foster those goals. The role of hope during an injury, illness or disability is essential for the treatment, rehabilitation or coping elements an individual might experience. As a result, those involved must be educated in various techniques to instil hope when needed.

This chapter has addressed three main points:

  1. The identification of a proposed model of hope, which can be utilised to understand the underlying cognitive and affective processes. However, this introduction only outlines typical cognitive appraisals and does not explain how to convert a low-hope person to a high-hope person.
  2. This chapter explained the most prominent psychological research and literature on different types of individuals, from various age groups to different ethnic and cultural groups. This summary identifies differences and similarities between groups, as well as outlining various mediators that may affect levels of perceived hope.
  3. Hope as an important component in individuals experiencing psychological distress was outlined. Hope was consistently correlated with perceived quality of life, ability to cope, and physical and social well-being.

Future research should integrate consistency among hope measures and definitions. Across all literature, different scales were used to measure hope. Consequently, the validity and reliability of comparisons between most findings are compromised. Additionally, the consideration of all the important variables affecting an individual’s emotional well-being has not yet been considered. If future research can attain this knowledge, the full picture of hope and its potential uses could be better understood. The impact of hope on motivation is another dimension that would have extensive implications on an individuals well-being and perceived quality of life.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Anila, M., & Dhanalakshmi, D. (2014). Hope, happiness, general health and well-being among the elderly. Indian Journal of Health and Wellbeing, 5(4), 448-451.

Campbell, A., Converse, P., & Rodgers, W. (1976). The quality of American life. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Davis, B. (2005). Mediators of the relationship between hope and well-being in older adults. Clinical Nursing Research, 14(3), 253-272. doi: 10.1177/1054773805275520

Deci, E., & Ryan, R. (2006). Hedonia, eudaimonia, and well-being: An introduction. Journal of Happiness Studies, 9(1), 1-11. doi: 10.1007/s10902-006-9018-1

Demirli, A., Türkmen, M., & Arık, R. (2014). Investigation of dispositional and state hope levels’ relations with student subjective well-being. Social Indicators Research, 120(2), 601-613. doi: 10.1007/s11205-014-0607-9

Diener, E., Emmons, R., Larson, R., & Griffin, S. (1985). The Satisfaction With Life Scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49(1), 71-75.

Dilmaç, B., & Kocaman, E. (2019). Investigation of the relationship between hope and the psychological well-being in a group of adults in terms of different variables. Social Sciences and Education Research Review, 6(1), 6-29.

Gallagher, M., & Lopez, S. (2018). The Oxford handbook of hope (pp. 27-58). New York City, NY: Oxford University Press.

Hasson-Ohayon, I., Kravetz, S., Meir, T., & Rozencwaig, S. (2009). Insight into severe mental illness, hope, and quality of life of persons with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorders. Psychiatry Research, 167(3), 231-238. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2008.04.019

Hendricks-Ferguson, V. (2008). Hope and spiritual well-being in adolescents with cancer. Western Journal of Nursing Research, 30(3), 385-401. doi: 10.1177/0193945907303045

Herth, K. (1992). Abbreviated instrument to measure hope: Development and psychometric evaluation. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 17(10), 1251-1259. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.1992.tb01843.x

Herth, K., & Cutcliffe, J. (2002). The concept of hope in nursing 4: Hope and gerontological nursing. British Journal of Nursing, 11(17), 1148-1156. doi: 10.12968/bjon.2002.11.17.1148

Irving, L., Snyder, C., Cheavens, J., Gravel, L., Hanke, J., Hilberg, P., & Nelson, N. (2004). The relationships between hope and outcomes at the pretreatment, beginning, and later phases of psychotherapy. Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, 14(4), 419-443. doi: 10.1037/1053-0479.14.4.419

Koopman, W., LeBlanc, N., Fowler, S., Nicolle, M., & Hulley, D. (2016). Hope, coping, and quality of life in adults with myasthenia gravis. Canadian Journal of Neuroscience Nursing, 31(1), 56-64.

Lazarus, R. (1999). Hope: An emotion and a vital coping resource against despair. Social Research, 66(2), 653-678.

Lu, F., & Hsu, Y. (2013). Injured athletes' rehabilitation beliefs and subjective well-being: The contribution of hope and social support. Journal of Athletic Training, 48(1), 92-98. doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-48.1.03

Magnano, P., Di Nuovo, S., Scioli, A., & Di Corrado, D. (2019). A study of the comprehensive state hope scale in Italian culture. TPM, 26(2), 287-304. doi: 10.4473/TPM26.2.8

Noguchi, K., Gohm, C., & Dalsky, D. (2006). Cognitive tendencies of focusing on positive and negative information. Journal of Research in Personality, 40(6), 891-910. doi: 10.1016/j.jrp.2005.09.008

Schrank, B., Woppmann, A., Sibitz, I., & Lauber, C. (2010). Development and validation of an integrative scale to assess hope. Health Expectations, 14(4), 417-428. doi: 10.1111/j.1369-7625.2010.00645.x

Snyder, C. (2002). Target article: Hope theory: Rainbows in the mind. Psychological Inquiry, 13(4), 249-275. doi: 10.1207/s15327965pli1304_01

Snyder, C., Harris, C., Anderson, J., & Holleran, S. (1991). The will and the ways: Development and validation of an individual-differences measure of hope. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60(4), 570-585. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.60.4.570

Snyder, C., Hoza, B., Pelham, W., Rapoff, M., Ware, L., & Danovsky, M. et al. (1997). The development and validation of the Children's Hope Scale. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 22(3), 399-421.

Snyder, C., LaPointe, A., Jeffrey Crowson, J., & Early, S. (1998). Preferences of high- and low-hope people for self-referential input. Cognition & Emotion, 12(6), 807-823. doi: 10.1080/026999398379448

Werner, S. (2012). Subjective well-being, hope, and needs of individuals with serious mental illness. Psychiatry Research, 196(2-3), 214-219. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2011.10.012

World Health Organization. (1998). Wellbeing measures in primary health care/the DepCare project. Copenhagen: World Health Organization. Retrieved from

Yeung, D., Ho, S., & Mak, C. (2015). Brief report: Attention to positive information mediates the relationship between hope and psychosocial well-being of adolescents. Journal of Adolescence, 42, 98-102. doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2015.04.004

External links[edit | edit source]