Can Hope be Changed in 90 Minutes? Testing the Efficacy of a Single-Session Goal-Pursuit Intervention for College Students

Abstract

Despite extensive research demonstrating relationships between hope and well being, little work addresses whether hope is malleable. We test a single-session, 90-min intervention to increase college students’ hopeful goal-directed thinking (as defined by Snyder et al. in, Pers Soc Psychol 60:570–585, 1991). To date, this study represents the only test of hope’s malleability in fewer than five sessions and contributes to the small but growing literature regarding positive-psychology interventions. This intervention is especially relevant to college students, given the increasing psychological distress and lack of perceived control noted among this population (Lewinsohn et al. in, J Abnorm Psychol 102:110–120, 1993; Twenge et al. in, Pers Soc Psychol Rev 8:308–319, 2004). Ninety-six participants were assigned to the hope intervention or one of two comparison/control conditions—progressive muscle relaxation or no intervention. Assessment occurred prior to intervention (pre-test), following intervention (post-test), and at one-month follow-up. Participants in the hope intervention showed increases in measures of hope, life purpose, and vocational calling from pre- to post-test relative to control participants. They also reported greater progress on a self-nominated goal at one-month follow-up. Counterintuitively, although hope predicted goal progress, hope did not mediate the relationship between intervention condition and goal progress. Implications of these findings and future directions are discussed.

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Correspondence to David B. Feldman.

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Feldman, D.B., Dreher, D.E. Can Hope be Changed in 90 Minutes? Testing the Efficacy of a Single-Session Goal-Pursuit Intervention for College Students. J Happiness Stud 13, 745–759 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-011-9292-4

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Keywords

  • Hope theory
  • Goals
  • Goal-specific hope
  • Single-session intervention
  • Positive-psychology intervention
  • College students
  • Purpose in life