Measuring and Increasing Hope to Improve Performance, Health

Hope shifts focus from the present moment to action paths (“pathways”) required to achieve future goals and motivation to follow these goal routes (“agency”).

Some advocates of mindful attention to the present moment question cultivating hope because it focuses on the future instead of the present, despite abundant empirical evidence that hope is positively associated with academic achievement, health outcomes, and more.

Benjamn Franklin

Benjamn Franklin

Buddhist thinkers argued that hope is illusory and prolongs human suffering and even America’s sage, Benjamin Franklin, noted that one who lives on hope will die fasting.

C. RIck Snyder

C. RIck Snyder

In contrast, hope investigator University of Kansas’s Charles “Rick” Snyder substantiated the health and performance benefits of hope and distinguished hope from learned optimism, self-efficacy, and self-esteem.

He developed and validated measures of hope as a trait and as a state, evaluating “pathways” and “agency” beliefs, with collaborators Cheri Harris, John R Anderson, Sharon A. Holleran, Lori M Irving, Sandra T. Sigmon, Lauren Yoshinobu, June Gibb, Charyle Langelle, and Pat Harney.

Snyder and team reported that children and adults across ethnic and gender groups who scored higher in hope demonstrated:

He offered tips for setting goals and enhancing “pathways” and “agency” toward goals, including:

  • Prioritizing self-selected goals
  • Developing multiple paths for each goal
  • Expecting positive outcomes while designing ways to remove potential obstacles.
Pam Omidyar

Pam Omidyar

One practical application of Snyder’s Hope Theory is Re-Mission,video game for cancer patients, developed by HopeLab’s Pam Omidyar, Pam Kato, and UCLA’s Steven Cole.

Pam Kato

Pam Kato

Adolescent patients in remission with acute leukemia, lymphoma, and soft-tissue sarcoma are required to continue daily chemotherapy treatments for up to several years.
Those who miss even 20% of their daily treatments increase their mortality risk by 200%.

Steve Cole

Steve Cole

Kato collaborated with Cole, West Virginia University’s Andrew Bradlyn and Brad Pollock of University of Texas to evaluate video-game interventions to improve young people’s medication adherence.

 They conducted a randomized trial with baseline and 1 month and 3 month assessments at 34 medical centers in the United States, Canada, and Australia.

Brad Pollock

Brad Pollock

Volunteers were 375 males and females between 13 to 29 years old undergoing chemotherapy for at least 4 months.
Participants in the video game tailored to young cancer patient increased adherence to chemotherapy by 50%, and showed increased self-efficacy and knowledge, compared with those who played commercial video games or no video games.

fMRI studies showed that their brains were most active when they played the game instead of observing the game interface.
Most active areas were:

  • Limbic structures including caudate, putamen, and nucleus accumbens, measuring anticipatory excitement before securing a reward
  • Thalamus, “the internet of the brain”
  • Hippocampus, the link between experience and long-term memory

Cole further evaluated Re-Mission and Zamzee, a motivational system to promote physical activity among young people, and now leads HopeLab’s Re-Mission 2 to further amplify positive health behavior and resilience.

-*How do you leverage hope to improve your work performance and health behaviors?

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4 thoughts on “Measuring and Increasing Hope to Improve Performance, Health

  1. CBLegray's CBLG Associates

    Kathryn; Thank you once again for sharing this message, especially in this season of “hope and good will toward men (and women).” It has been occasionally taught that the primary motivation with healthy effects is ‘hoping for success”, while “fearing failure” has an opposite degenerative effect. I began my full time participation in an Organizational Behavior studies program listening to this impactful assessment- in a particular conference session re group organizational beliefs, values and attitudes (especially related to survival).

    1. kathrynwelds Post author

      Thanks, Bill, for pointing to a significant question: Which has greater impact, for better or worse workplace performance: Fear of failure or Hope for success? There’s considerable research documenting the positive effects of hope, but there is perhaps less attention to the counterpoint, especially in the current ethos of positive psychology.
      Looking for your further insights from Organizational Behavior research perspectives.

      1. CBLegray's CBLG Associates


        I might suggest that Affirmative Action, Appreciative Inquiry, and Positive Change are mostly “global” actions to accelerate desired changes amongst broad populations, and not necessarily guides for effective individual and group actions (per se). Generally, IMHO, these actions can involve unintended inadequacies by not striving hard to be holistic, multidisciplinary, and with all-in-the-room considered (i.e. full Gestalt approaches).

        For example, without recognizing failure chances based on post-mortem studies, and without considering negatively expressed opinions as well, the flow of remedial and planned actions may contain oversights which lead to undesired consequences, shortfalls, and less than desired outcomes. Actually, there is a great abundance of such examples.

        Generally, planning designs are based mostly on high hopes for successes, and involve reflective and forward thinking. While, execution experiences involve both disappointments and successes, as there is a continuing flow of “finding and fixing for things gone wrong” and “the reinstating of hope as confidence building events reflect the right stuff.”

      2. kathrynwelds Post author

        Thanks for the reminder about the continuing effort to “reinstate hope” after inevitable setbacks, obstacles, and disappointments, Bill.

        *Kathryn Welds* 650 740 0763 *LinkedIn | **Blog **|**Google+ ** |Twitter @kathrynwelds * *| Facebook notes * [image: My Vizify unique thumbprint]

        On Mon, Dec 16, 2013 at 9:08 AM, Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and

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