Skip Navigation

Hope Research Center

OU-Tulsa Seedsower
Skip Side Navigation

Hope Research Center

Hope is the belief that the future will be better and you have the power to make it so. Hope is based on three main ideas: desirable goals, pathways to goal attainment, and agency (willpower) to pursue those pathways. 


Goals represent the cornerstone of hope theory as the endpoint to planned behavior. Goals that motivate behavior can exist in the short- or long-term, but must meet certain criteria: potentially attainable, clearly articulated, and measurable. Motivated behavior requires the capacity to identify one or more viable pathways to goal attainment.


Pathways represent a mental road map allowing us to consider multiple strategies that will lead to the desired outcome. Viable pathways are within the person’s capacity to pursue and are developed with a plan of success. In this manner, the hopeful people can identify potential barriers with workable solutions or possess the capacity to change to alternative pathways when needed. Hopeful people will generate multiple pathways toward their goal pursuits. Comparatively, lower hope people experience difficulty in managing barriers and in their ability to develop alternative pathways.


Agency represents the goal-directed motivational thinking for hope theory. Agency refers to the capacity to exert mental energy (willpower) to the pursuit of pathway. Hopeful individuals are able to exhibit self-control, regulating beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors during goal pursuits especially while experiencing stress and adversity.


We are interested in both the science and power of hope as a psychological strength especially among those experiencing trauma and adversity. Three questions guide our work:

  1. Does hope buffer adversity and stress?
  2. Do hopeful children and adults have better psychological, social, and behavioral outcomes?
  3. Can hope be increased and sustained by targeted interventions?