Hope is an important human experience and a valuable resource for practitioners working with people facing adversity. The pioneering work by Snyder (1994, 2002) has been tremendously helpful in placing hope as a worthy topic of scientific research. Although Snyder’s hope theory remains the dominant conceptualization of hope in psychology, it limits the profound experience of hope to goal pursuit.
While we can investigate the predictors, consequences, and ways to cultivate hope on this definition, I argue that more foundational work on hope is needed. In particular, we engage with the lived experience of hope as reported by practitioners and community members including people of faith. Indeed, the project will enable the collection of “stories of hope” from people of varied religious and cultural backgrounds with the aim of creating a data repository containing rich qualitative data on experiences of hope and informing scientific knowledge on hope.
I will also convene a curated interdisciplinary scientific meeting (psychology, theology, nursing and medicine, other practitioners) to co-construct an expanded definition of hope that is both phenomenologically-grounded and scientifically precise (core characteristics and distinctions from related constructs such as optimism and trust).
The output will be a target article accompanied by selected commentaries laying out the expanded conceptualization of hope and the next high priority research questions. The meeting will also foster collaborations between experts working in various fields to promote hope and resilience in their respective communities. I will also produce a pamphlet to inform practitioners and organize a public workshop to engage professionals and religious leaders in a discussion about what hope is. This project will build foundational basis and provide the impetus for a renewed study of hope in psychology, one that sits more closely at the interface of healthcare, spiritual care, and lived experiences.