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September 29, 2014

Why We Need a Hope Index

Whether it is the triumph of an underdog, the toppling of an oppressive force or the achievement of the seemingly impossible, stories of hope tug at our sentimental heartstrings and engender a sense of empowerment within our own lives. This feeling of empowerment is not purely superficial. Hope fundamentally alters our cognitive architecture to breed productivity and progress.

Just as the Consumer Confidence Index operates as a predictor of our economic future, the GlobeScan Foundation believes that hope can act as a predictor of progress and creative potential to overcome global society’s pressing challenges. It is with this belief that we are pleased to release the first Hope Index. The Index, which is based on perspectives from 12,000 citizens across the United States, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Pakistan, Nigeria, Russia, Poland, Panama, India, Turkey, Kenya and Indonesia, reflects the degree of hope that respondents have for our future. Our analyses reveal that Indonesia and Kenya are the most hopeful countries while the UK and the US are the least hopeful of the countries included this year (See the Press Release for topline findings, individual country index scores, and full methodology).

Individuals with a hopeful mindset are especially effective in reaching their desired goals in the face of adversity1. This success, which can permeate all facets of life, is attained by a willingness to learn2 and a proactive approach to conflict or problem resolution1. Within the psychological literature, hope is conceived to be composed of three primary components: the expectation for a bright future, the perceived self-efficacy to achieve that expected future, and the motivation to achieve the expected future1. Hope provides the pathway to an elevated self-esteem and ultimately, an elevated sense of well-being and confidence3.

Our index aligns with each of these factors. Indeed, respondents with high hope were more likely to report that our children and grandchildren will have a higher quality of life than we do today (“Expectation of a Bright Future” chart, 1st below), believe that humanity will find a way to overcome the challenges we face today (“Perceived Efficacy to Achieve a Bright Future” chart, 2nd below), and are doing their part to help solve humanity’s challenges (“Motivation to Achieve a Bright Future” chart, 3rd below).





Social science research has shown that in addition to creating a sense of well-being and confidence, hopeful thinking can buffer against the stress of future obstacles in life4. Hopeful thinking therefore not only decreases the chance of future negative outcomes by facilitating positive behaviour, but can also provide the psychological armour that is required to achieve progress in the face of adversity1. Environments that encourage the establishment and achievement of goals can therefore establish small pockets of hope. And the more pockets of hope, the more mentally prepared we are as a global society to overcome the environmental, economic and social challenges that we face.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. famously proclaimed that “[a]ll that is done in the world is done by Hope.” It is with this belief that we plan to continue measuring citizens’ hope around the world. We would like to hear how you react to our work and what things you would change about our current Hope Index. Please engage with us by leaving your commentary below.


References:

1 Synder, C. R., Feldman, D. B., Taylor, J. D., Schroeder, L. L. & Adams III, V. H. (2000). The roles of hopeful thinking in preventing problems and enhancing strengths. Applied & Preventative Psychology, 9, 249-270.

2 French, T.M. (1952). The Integration of behavior; Vol. 1. Basic postulates. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

3 Curry, L. A., & Snyder, C. R (2000). Hope takes the field: Mind matters in athletic performances. In C. R. Snyder (Ed.), Handbook of Hope: Theory, measures and applications (pp. 243-260). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

4 Snyder, C. R. & Pulvars, K. (2001). Dr. Seuss, the coping machine, and “Oh, the places you’ll go.” In Snyder, C. R (Eds.) Coping with stress: Effective people and processes. New York: Oxford University Press.

Dr. Melaina Vinski

Dr. Melaina Vinski holds a Master of Science and a PhD in Cognitive Neuropsychology. She provides theoretical and statistical insight on measurement design, stakeholder engagement and behaviour change for various GlobeScan Foundation projects. Melaina has conducted research at several universities in Canada, and has completed research internships at the University of Iceland and the Max Planck Institute of Human Cognitive and Brain Science in Germany.

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