The Feeling of Hope Has the Power to Drive and Motivate

"Without hope, there is no reason for change."

That’s how Heath Demaree, Ph.D., a Case Western Reserve University psychology professor, sums up the emotion of hope.

"Without hope, there isn’t any reason to act," he says. "Hope is the anticipation of possible future rewards, something to drive toward, something to motivate you."

Demaree, who researches emotion, argues that if the good event or reward is at least somewhat dependent on an action, then the feeling of hope should increase the desire to act and, consequently, the likelihood of performing the action.

Richard Boyatzis, Ph.D., who studies and teaches psychology and organizational behavior at Case Western Reserve, agrees, adding that hope engages the neural system and activates circuits that can make an individual feel more open, creative and calm.

But the opposite is also true, Demaree says. If someone is "hopeless" that his or her actions will lead to a positive outcome, then there is little reason to act.