Confusing hope and optimism when prospects are good: A matter of language pragmatics or conceptual equivalence?

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3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In psychology, the concepts of hope and optimism are often treated interchangeably or not clearly delineated from each other. We argue that hope and optimism are conceptually different, and that empirical instances of apparent convergence are a matter of language pragmatics, not semantic equivalence. To test this, the present research used a forced choice methodology. In two studies, including 333 voters in the 2016 US presidential election and 145 Australian football supporters, independent ratings of hope and optimism were rated similarly at high levels of likelihood. However, when forced to choose, participants were more likely to select optimism rather than hope when success was likely. In contrast, when success was less than likely (yet possible) participants were more likely to indicate they felt hope rather than optimism, in particular when they were highly invested in the outcome. The findings highlight the distinctive nature of hope.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)483-492
Number of pages10
JournalMotivation and Emotion
Volume43
Issue number3
Early online date23 Nov 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2019

Keywords

  • Hope
  • Optimism
  • Personal investment
  • Possibility

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