The Unique Psychology of Hope
Hope is a multifaceted human attribute. Typically categorized as a positive emotion, it often occurs in the midst of negative or uncertain circumstances. It is decidedly cognitive, yet has a unique affective1 quality that provides us the motivation to pursue future outcomes. Like many other emotions, its experience is often beyond our control. Just as we are seized by anger and overcome with joy,2 we often cannot help but hope, even though we may try to suppress the emotion for fear we will be disappointed if the hoped-for outcome is not realized. At the same time it is a state we intentionally experience or maintain. We decide to hope or refuse to give up hope for fear of actual, psychological or even moral consequences that may occur if we do not hope. And the types of outcomes we hope for are as varied as the emotion is complex. They range from hopes of this world such as getting a promotion or recovering from an illness to the divine hope rooted in God’s promise.