Definitions - Hope

What is hope? We often use words without really knowing what they mean. Here's how psychologists define hope for the purposes of their research.

“In what has come to be called hope theory, C. R. Snyder (1989, 1994, 2000, 2002), defines hope as goal-directed thinking in which a person has the perceived capacity to produce routes to desired goals (called pathways thinking), along with the motivation to initiate and sustain the use of those routes (called agency thinking). In brief, hope is comprised of three components – goals, pathways, and agency. Each of these components is necessary for hopeful thought.

It should be noted that the hope process is self-correcting (Snyder, 1996, 2002; Snyder, Cheavens, & Michael, 1999). That is to say, as the person moves along a pathway, she assesses if and how this pathway is facilitating her completion of the particular goal. If a given pathway is not working, another pathway will be identified. Alternatively, the goal itself may be reconstructed or jettisoned if it is no longer valued by the individual. Agency is maintained through factors such as the perceived successful movement along a given pathway, or the perceived accomplishment of a goal. Also, agency is sustained through physiological factors such as eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep (Snyder, Irving, & Anderson, 1991). Finally, family and friends may provide the requisite social support for maintaining motivation during the goal-pursuit process (Snyder, Cheavens, & Sympson, 1997a).

High-hope persons are able to set appropriate and clear goals, find pathways to meet those goals, and maintain the requisite level of agency. They are adept at adjusting their pathways and goals in the face of perceived blockages (Snyder, 1998, 2001). High-hope people also are capable of identifying and capitalizing on sources of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation so as to maintain a sense of agency throughout the goal-pursuit process (Shorey, Snyder, Rand, Hockmeyer, & Feldman, 2002; Snyder, Ilardi, et al., 2000b). For complete overviews of the high- as compared to low-hope children and adults, we refer the reader to Snyder (1994, 1995, 2000, 2002) and Snyder, McDermott, Cook, and Rapoff (2002a).”

This definition has been quoted from:

Hopeful Thinking in Older Adults: Back to the Future

Kristin Kahle Wrobleski and C. R. Snyder

Department of Psychology, The University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, USA

Experimental Aging Research; Apr-Jun2005, Vol. 31 Issue 2, p217-233, 17p

ISSN: 0361-073X print/1096-4657 online

DOI: 10.1080/03610730590915452