Psychology of Hope

Hope research falls under the umbrella of positive psychology, a field best explained by Shawn Achor
(As nutrition and exercise is to medicine, positive psychology is to mental health)


The Science of Hope – My Favorite Trilogy


C.R. Snyder (1944-2006)
Wright Distinguished Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Kansas

  • C.R. Snyder is the Isaac Newton of Hope. No other scientist had ever studied gravity until Newton investigated the why behind the apple falling. Today we sit in planes that fly at 600 mph and we’ve been to the moon, all thanks in part to Newton’s scientific unpacking of gravity. In the same light, no other social scientist or psychologist had studied hope until on sabbatical C.R. Snyder got curious about this little phenomenon of hope.

  • Most insightful findings from Snyder’s research relate to how hope is developed in childhood, how it can be learned, taught, and increased within individuals and how it is more than just a fuzzy feeling. He defined hope as the belief that the future can be better with my active involvement in the present. He broke it down into three components: goals, will power, and way power. Check out his book here.

Shane Lopez (1970-2016)
Gallup’s Senior Scientist in Residence and Research Director for the Clifton Strengths Institute

  • Shane Lopez carried the torch lit by Snyder at KU where was mentored by Snyder and was awarded the Brooks-Cole Award, given to the outstanding doctoral student in counseling psychology. Shane was able to take the theories proposed by Snyder and correlate them with extensive research opportunities through endless polling with the Gallup organization in Omaha, NE.
  • Shane’s research and real world application was largely related to school and work performance. He discovered that hope was the leading indicator for academic success (from grade school and beyond), more impactful than IQ, entrance exam scores, or any other indicators. Besides Making Hope Happen, his first book, he also co-authored the Oxford Handbook of Hope.

Jerome Groopman (1952-Present)
Dina and Raphael Recanati Chair of Medicine at the Harvard Medical School

  • Jerome Groopman, M.D. is the Dina and Raphael Recanati Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Chief of Experimental Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and one of the world’s leading researchers in cancer and AIDS. He is a staff writer for The New Yorker and has written for The New York TimesThe Wall Street Journal,The Washington Post and The New Republic.
  • Dr. Groopman took a more subjective clinical doctor/patient relational approach to learning about hope reflecting on decades of work as an oncologist in his book Anatomy of Hope. He discovered hope often plays the largest role in the success rate of cancer patients. The most fascinating piece of his work, was a finding in placebo based studies where subjects were given hopeful information about receiving a drug with a positive effect (which was actually a placebo), compared to the control group that did not get hopeful information (but got the same placebo), the group that was given hope along with the placebo showed positive physiological responses that mirrored the effect of what the actual drug would have achieved. Hope works in mysterious ways!
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