Hope Theory

Kevin L. Rand and Jennifer S. Cheavens

in The Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology

Second edition

Published in print July 2009 | ISBN: 9780195187243
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:
 Hope Theory

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  • Social Psychology
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Hope is defined as the perceived ability to produce pathways to achieve desired goals and to motivate oneself to use those pathways. The historical origins of hope theory are reviewed. Definitions and explanations are given for the core concepts of Snyder's (1994c) cognitive model of hope, including goals, pathways, and agency. Goals are abstract mental targets that guide human behaviors. Pathways thought entails the perceived ability to generate multiple routes to desired goals. Agency thought entails the perceived ability to initiate and sustain movement along a pathway. Emotions are conceptualized as sequelae of goal-directed thoughts and actions and function as feedback regarding perceived success or failure of a goal pursuit. A temporal model of the goal pursuit process is presented, and the roles of hope cognitions at each phase of the sequence are explained. Several scales constructed based on hope theory and used in research are described. Research on hope is reviewed. Higher hope corresponds with superior academic and athletic performance, greater physical and psychological well-being, and enhanced interpersonal relationships. Future directions for research and application of hope theory are suggested, including distinguishing hope from other personality constructs, examining potential group differences in hope, exploring possible maladaptive aspects of hope, and using hope theory to understand and ameliorate current global crises.

Keywords: cognition; goals; hope; motivation; well-being

Article.  8249 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Social Psychology ; Clinical Psychology

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