Hope is an optimistic state of mind that is based on an expectation of
positive outcomes with respect to events and circumstances in one's
life or the world at large. As a verb, its definitions include:
"expect with confidence" and "to cherish a desire with
Among its opposites are dejection, hopelessness and despair.
1 In psychology
2 In healthcare
2.2 Major theories
2.3 Major empirical findings
3 In culture
4 In management
5 In literature
6 In mythology
7 In religion
8 See also
10 Further reading
11 External links
Hope, which lay at the bottom of the box, remained. Allegorical
painting by George Frederic Watts, 1886
Barbara Fredrickson argues that hope comes into its own when crisis
looms, opening us to new creative possibilities. Frederickson
argues that with great need comes an unusually wide range of ideas, as
well as such positive emotions as happiness and joy, courage, and
empowerment, drawn from four different areas of one’s self: from a
cognitive, psychological, social, or physical perspective. Hopeful
people are "like the little engine that could, [because] they keep
telling themselves "I think I can, I think I can". Such positive
thinking bears fruit when based on a realistic sense of optimism, not
on a naive "false hope".
Charles R. Snyder linked hope to the existence of a
goal, combined with a determined plan for reaching that goal:
Alfred Adler had similarly argued for the centrality of goal-seeking
in human psychology, as too had philosophical anthropologists like
Ernst Bloch. Snyder also stressed the link between hope and mental
willpower, as well as the need for realistic perception of goals,
arguing that the difference between hope and optimism was that the
former included practical pathways to an improved future. D. W.
Winnicott saw a child's antisocial behavior as expressing an
unconscious hope[further explanation needed] for management by the
wider society, when containment within the immediate family had
Object relations theory
Object relations theory similarly sees the analytic
transference as motivated in part by an unconscious hope that past
conflicts and traumas can be dealt with anew.
As a specialist in positive psychology, Snyder studied how hope and
forgiveness can impact several aspects of life such as health, work,
education, and personal meaning. He postulated that there are three
main things that make up hopeful thinking:
Goals – Approaching life in a goal-oriented way.
Pathways – Finding different ways to achieve your goals.
Agency – Believing that you can instigate change and achieve these
Auschwitz, a rose expressing hope
In other words, hope was defined as the perceived capability to derive
pathways to desired goals and motivate oneself via agency thinking to
use those pathways.
Snyder argues that individuals who are able to realize these three
components and develop a belief in their ability are hopeful people
who can establish clear goals, imagine multiple workable pathways
toward those goals, and persevere, even when obstacles get in their
Snyder proposed a "
Hope Scale" which considered that a person's
determination to achieve their goal is their measured hope. Snyder
differentiates between adult-measured hope and child-measured hope.
Hope Scale by Snyder contains 12 questions; 4 measuring
'pathways thinking', 4 measuring 'agency thinking', and 4 that are
simply fillers. Each subject responds to each question using an
8-point scale. Fibel and Hale measure hope by combining Snyder's
Hope Scale with their own Generalized Expectancy for Success Scale
(GESS) to empirically measure hope. Snyder regarded that
psychotherapy can help focus attention on one's goals, drawing on
tacit knowledge of how to reach them. Similarly, there is an
outlook and a grasp of reality to hope, distinguishing No Hope, Lost
Hope and Real Hope, which differ in terms of viewpoint and
Grasp of Reality
Hope has the ability to help people heal faster and easier.
Individuals who maintain hope, especially when battling illness,
significantly enhance their chances of recovery. This is important
because numerous people with chronic, physical, or mental illness
believe that their condition is stable and that they have little
chance of recovery. If health care providers begin to recognize the
importance of hope in the recovery process, then they can learn to
instill hope within their patients; this would enable patients to
develop healthy coping strategies and therefore improve their physical
and emotional well being. Shaping people’s beliefs and expectations
to be more hopeful and optimistic is an essential component of
positive psychology. In general, people who possess hope and think
optimistically have a greater sense of well being in addition to the
improved health outcomes outlined above. Positive psychologists teach
strategies to help boost people’s hope and optimism, which would
benefit individuals coping with illness by improving their life
satisfaction and recovery process.
Of the countless models that examine the importance of hope in an
individual’s life, there are two major theories that have gained a
significant amount of recognition in the field of psychology. One of
these theories, developed by Charles R. Snyder, argues that hope
should be viewed as a cognitive skill that demonstrates an
individual’s ability to maintain drive in the pursuit of a
particular goal. This model reasons that an individual’s ability
to be hopeful depends on two types of thinking: agency thinking and
pathway thinking. Agency thinking refers to an individual’s
determination to achieve their goals despite possible obstacles, while
pathway thinking refers to the ways in which an individual believes
they can achieve these personal goals.
Snyder’s theory uses hope as a mechanism that is most often seen in
psychotherapy. In these instances, the therapist helps their client
overcome barriers that have prevented them from achieving goals. The
therapist would then help the client set realistic and relevant
personal goals (i.e. "I am going to find something I am passionate
about and that makes me feel good about myself"), and would help them
remain hopeful of their ability to achieve these goals, and suggest
the correct pathways to do so.
Whereas Snyder’s theory focuses on hope as a mechanism to overcome
an individual’s lack of motivation to achieve goals, the other major
theory developed by K.A Herth deals more specifically with an
individual’s future goals as they relate to coping with
illnesses. Herth views hope as "a motivational and cognitive
attribute that is theoretically necessary to initiate and sustain
action toward goal attainment". Establishing realistic and
attainable goals in this situation is more difficult, as the
individual most likely does not have direct control over the future of
their health. Instead, Herth suggests that the goals should be
concerned with how the individual is going to personally deal with the
illness—"Instead of drinking to ease the pain of my illness, I am
going to surround myself with friends and family".
While the nature of the goals in Snyder’s model differ with those in
Herth’s model, they both view hope as a way to maintain personal
motivation, which ultimately will result in a greater sense of
Major empirical findings
Hope, and more specifically, particularized hope, has been shown to be
an important part of the recovery process from illness; it has strong
psychological benefits for patients, helping them to cope more
effectively with their disease. For example, hope motivates people
to pursue healthy behaviors for recovery, such as eating fruits and
vegetables, quitting smoking, and engaging in regular physical
activity. This not only helps to enhance people’s recovery from
illnesses, but also helps prevent illness from developing in the first
place. Patients who maintain high levels of hope have an improved
prognosis for life-threatening illness and an enhanced quality of
life. Belief and expectation, which are key elements of hope,
block pain in patients suffering from chronic illness by releasing
endorphins and mimicking the effects of morphine. Consequently,
through this process, belief and expectation can set off a chain
reaction in the body that can make recovery from chronic illness more
likely. This chain reaction is especially evident with studies
demonstrating the placebo effect, a situation when hope is the only
variable aiding in these patients’ recovery.
Overall, studies have demonstrated that maintaining a sense of hope
during a period of recovery from illness is beneficial. A sense of
hopelessness during the recovery period has, in many instances,
resulted in adverse health conditions for the patient (i.e. depression
and anxiety following the recovery process). Additionally, having
a greater amount of hope before and during cognitive therapy has led
to decreased PTSD-related depression symptoms in war veterans.
Hope has also been found to be associated with more positive
perceptions of subjective health. However, reviews of research
literature have noted that the connections between hope and symptom
severity in other mental health disorders are less clear, such as in
cases of individuals with schizophrenia.
The inclusion of hope in treatment programs has potential in both
physical and mental health settings.
Hope as a mechanism for improved
treatment has been studied in the contexts of PTSD, chronic physical
illness, and terminal illness, among other disorders and
ailments. Within mental health practice, clinicians have
suggested using hope interventions as a supplement to more traditional
cognitive behavioral therapies. In terms of support for physical
illness, research suggests that hope can encourage the release of
endorphins and enkephalins, which help to block pain.
There are two main arguments based on judgement against those whom are
advocates of using hope to help treat severe illnesses. The first of
which is that if physicians have too much hope, they may aggressively
treat the patient. The physician will hold on to a small shred of hope
that the patient may get better. Thus, this causes them to try methods
that are costly and may have many side effects. One physician
noted that she regretted having hope for her patient; it resulted
in her patient suffering through three more years of pain that the
patient would not have endured if the physician had realized recovery
The second argument is the division between hope and wishing. Those
that are hopeful are actively trying to investigate the best path of
action while taking into consideration the obstacles. Research has
shown though that many of those who have "hope" are wishfully thinking
and passively going through the motions, as if they are in denial
about their actual circumstances. Being in denial and having too much
hope may negatively impact both the patient and the physician.
The impact that hope can have on a patient’s recovery process is
strongly supported through both empirical research and theoretical
approaches. Also always have hope. However, reviews of literature also
maintain that more longitudinal and methodologically-sound research is
needed to establish which hope interventions are actually the most
effective, and in what setting (i.e. chronic illness vs. terminal
A Syrian refugee girl with a hopeful expression
In the matter of globalization, hope is focused on economic and social
Focusing on parts of Asia, hope has taken on a secular or
materialistic form in relation to the pursuit of economic growth.
Primary examples are the rise of the economies of China and India,
correlating with the notion of Chindia. A secondary relevant example
is the increased use of contemporary architecture in rising economies,
such as the building of the Shanghai World Financial Center, Burj
Khalifa and Taipei 101, which has given rise to a prevailing hope
within the countries of origin. In chaotic environments hope is
transcended without cultural boundaries, Syrian refugee children are
supported by UNESCO's education project through creative education and
psycho-social assistance. Other inter-cultural support for
instilling hope involve food culture, disengaging refugees from trauma
through immersing them in their rich cultural past.
Robert Mattox, a social activist and futurist,
proposed in 2012 a social change theory based on the hope phenomenon
in relation to leadership. Larry Stout postulated in 2006 that
certain conditions must exist before even the most talented leaders
can lead change. Given such conditions, Mattox proposes a change
management theory around hope, suggesting that a leader can lead
change and shape culture within a community or organization by
creating a "hopescape" and by harnessing the hope system.[citation
Hope diamond system – A coal to diamond process
Pandora trying to close the box that she had opened out
of curiosity. At left, the evils of the world taunt her as they
escape. The engraving is based on a painting by F. S. Church.
Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the
tune without the words and never stops at all.
— Emily Dickinson
A classic reference to hope which has entered modern language is the
concept that "
Hope springs eternal" taken from Alexander Pope's Essay
on Man, the phrase reading "
Hope springs eternal in the human breast,
Man never is, but always to be blest:" Another popular reference,
Hope is the thing with feathers," is from a poem by Emily
Hope can be used as an artistic plot device and is often a motivating
force for change in dynamic characters. A commonly understood
reference from western popular culture is the subtitle "A New Hope"
from the original first installment (now considered Episode IV) in the
Star Wars science fiction space opera. The subtitle refers to one
of the lead characters, Luke Skywalker, who is expected in the future
to allow good to triumph over evil within the plot of the films.
Richard Rorty understands hope as more than
goal setting, rather as a metanarrative, a story that serves as a
promise or reason for expecting a better future. Rorty as
postmodernist believes past meta–narratives, including the Christian
story, utilitarianism, and
Marxism have proved false hopes; that
theory cannot offer social hope; and that liberal man must learn to
live without a consensual theory of social hope. Rorty says a new
document of promise is needed for social hope to exist again.
The swallow has been a symbol of hope, in
Aesop's fables and numerous
other historic literature. It symbolizes hope, in part because it
is among the first birds to appear at the end of winter and the start
Other symbols of hope include the anchor and the dove.
Elpis (Hope) appears in ancient
Greek mythology with the story of Zeus
Prometheus stole fire from the god Zeus, which
infuriated the supreme god. In turn,
Zeus created a box that contained
all manners of evil, unbeknownst to the receiver of the box. Pandora
opened the box after being warned not to, and unleashed a multitude of
harmful spirits that inflicted plagues, diseases, and illnesses on
mankind. Spirits of greed, envy, hatred, mistrust, sorrow, anger,
revenge, lust, and despair scattered far and wide looking for humans
to torment. Inside the box, however,
Pandora also discovered and
released a healing spirit named Hope. From ancient times, people have
recognized that a spirit of hope had the power to heal afflictions and
helps them bear times of great suffering, illnesses, disasters, loss,
and pain caused by the malevolent spirits and events. In Hesiod's
Works and Days, the personification of hope is named Elpis.
Norse mythology however considered
Hope (Vön) to be the slobber
dripping from the mouth of Fenris Wolf: their concept of courage
rated most highly a cheerful bravery in the absence of hope.
Hope is a key concept in most major world religions, often signifying
the "hoper" believes an individual or a collective group will reach a
concept of heaven. Depending on the religion, hope can be seen as a
prerequisite for and/or byproduct of spiritual attainment, among other
People collecting the miraculous water in Lourde, France
Hope is one of the three theological virtues of the Christian
religion, alongside faith and love. "Hope" in the
means "a strong and confident expectation" of future reward (see Titus
1:2). In modern terms, hope is akin to trust and a confident
Paul the Apostle
Paul the Apostle argued that hope was a source of
salvation for Christians: "For in hope we have been saved...if we hope
for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it"
(see Romans 8:25).
According to the Holman
Bible Dictionary, hope is a "[t]rustful
expectation...the anticipation of a favorable outcome under God's
guidance." In The Pilgrim's Progress, it is Hopeful who comforts
Christian in Doubting Castle; while conversely at the entrance to
Dante's Hell were the words, "Lay down all hope, you that go in by
In historic literature of Hinduism, hope is referred to with Pratidhi
(Sanskrit: प्रतिधी), or Apêksh (Sanskrit:
अपेक्ष). It is discussed with the concepts of
desire and wish. In Vedic philosophy, karma was linked to ritual
sacrifices (yajna), hope and success linked to correct performance of
these rituals. In Vishnu Smriti, the image of hope, morals and
work is represented as the virtuous man who rides in a chariot
directed by his hopeful mind to his desired wishes, drawn by his five
senses, who keeps the chariot on the path of the virtuous, and thus is
not distracted by the wrongs such as wrath, greed, and other
In the centuries that followed, the concept of karma changed from
sacramental rituals to actual human action that builds and serves
society and human existence–a philosophy epitomized in the
Bhagavad Gita. Hope, in the structure of beliefs and motivations, is a
long-term karmic concept. In Hindu belief, actions have consequences,
and while one’s effort and work may or may not bear near term
fruits, it will serve the good, that the journey of one’s diligent
efforts (karma) and how one pursues the journey, sooner or later
leads to bliss and moksha.
The Principle of Hope
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^ D. W. Winnicott, The Child, the Family, and the Outside World (1973)
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Shape Culture. lulu.com. ISBN 978-1105577208.
^ Stout, Larry. Time for a Change. USA: Destiny Image, 2006
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Media related to
Hope at Wikimedia Commons
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Hope through Prayer
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