Exploring the relationship between Hope and Personality Traits

 

Ms. Ankita Mishra1, Dr. Shivani Datta2

1Assistant Professor, Dept. of Psychology, Shaheed Rajguru College of Applied Sciences for Women

University of Delhi, Delhi

2Assistant Professor, Dept. of Psychology, K.N.C, University of Delhi, Delhi

*Corresponding Author Email: ankitamishra94@gmail.com, dat.shiv@gmail.com

 

ABSTRACT:

Hope is a positive futuristic orientation one has in life which also influences how one feels in the present. Literature seems to suggest that there exists a relationship between hope and the traits of personality. In light of such previous findings, the aim of the present research was to understand an association between hope and the Big Five Factors of personality. The findings have revealed significant positive relationship between extraversion, openness to experience and conscientiousness with the total hope scores and a significant negative relationship between neuroticism and hope scores. The personality trait-hope understanding could be used in designing interventions and their successful implementation by keeping in mind the dominant traits which is likely to have an impact on individual’s goal directed behaviour during treatment and the belief about benefitting from the intervention.

 

KEYWORDS: Big Five Factors, Goal-directed behaviour, Hope, Personality, Traits,

 

 


INTRODUCTION:

Hope:

Hope is a positive outlook on life experienced by humans. Hope structures in one’s anticipation of the future that influences how one feels in the present. It creates a positive mode about an expectation, a goal or a future situation.

 

Hope shapes one’s way of looking at a situation. The cognitions associated with hope (how one thinks when one is hopeful) are pathways to desired goals and reflect the motivation to pursue one’s goals (Snyder, Harris, Anderson and Holleran, 1991). It has been found that individuals high on hope have better problem-solving abilities and are able to mentally explore novel situations (Change, 1998, Breznitz, 1986).

 

Most of the models and theories have conceptualised hope as related to goal attainment (Stoland, 1969), yet the literature depicts diverse approaches regarding the construct of hope. Some researchers have categorised hope as an emotional, motivational or cognitive construct while others have conceptualised it as a complex system involving interplay of emotional cognitive and various other aspects (Farran and Herth, 1995).

 

According to Snyder, the cognitive hope process starts with individuals’ representation of the future. Hope is a goal directed thinking in which the person utilises pathways thinking (the perceived capacity to find routes to desired goals) and agency thinking (the requisite motivation to use those routes). Only those goals with considerable value to the individual are considered as applicable to hope. The goals may vary temporally (short term and long term), may be approach oriented or preventive or vary in relation to difficulty of attainment (Snyder, Feldman, Taylor, Schroeder and Adams, 2000). High or low hope people bring their overriding emotional sets with them as they undertake specific goal related activities. When a person experiences a stress or it is interpreted differently depending upon his or her level of hope, thus affecting their goal pursuits. Different conceptualization and models of hope suggests that it has both emotional and affective components.

 

Personality:

The concept of personality can be seen as the distinctive and relatively enduring way of thinking feeling and acting that characterises a person’s response to life situations. There are various perspectives on personality including the psychodynamic perspective, the humanistic perspective, behaviorist and social learning.

 

The earliest approach to understanding personality included the various type theories. They helped to understand an individual’s personality on the basis of their typification. However, a person cannot completely fit into a particular kind or type of personality.

 

The trait approach provides us a straight forward explanation of people’s behavioral consistencies. Traits are stable characteristics that cause a person to respond to situations in certain ways. The recent and most comprehensive trait theory was developed by Paul Costa and Robert McCrae in 1985. They examined all possible personality traits and put them under the umbrella of five domains or factors, called as Big Five factors. These are:

·       Neuroticism: It refers to the degree to which people are emotionally stable or unstable.

·       Extraversion: It refers to the degree to which people are socially active, outgoing, talkative and fun loving.

·       Openness to experience: It refers to the degree to which individuals are imaginative, curious, open to new ideas and interested in cultural pursuits.

·       Agreeableness: This factor characterises who are helpful, cooperative, caring on one end and hostile, self-centered on the opposite end.

·       Conscientiousness: Those who score high on this factor are achievement oriented, dependable, prudent, hardworking and self-controlled. On the opposite end are people who are impulsive.

 

Relationship between hope and personality:

The literature conceptualises hope both as a ‘state’ and ‘trait’. Snyder (2000) conceptualised hope as a trait in his theory. Hope consists of a motivational component called as agency. Therefore, an individual with a higher level of trait agency is likely to sustain the goal directed effort and motivation in the face of difficulties.

 

Since personality trait refers to a tendency to behave in a stable or consistent manner a link between hope and personality is considered as inevitable. As hope is considered a goal attaining thinking, it may be linked with the consciousness domain of personality (Tiao et al, 2017; Orojloo et al, 2016).

 

Hopeful individuals are able to manage and overcome stress while achieving their identified goals. Hope can also improve wellbeing, relationships (Chan et al, 2016) and is related to life satisfaction (Halama, 2010). Since individuals who are hopeful are more responsive to stress positively and report lower levels of daily stress, they may be considered as less emotionally unstable and consequently less neurotic.

 

Hope is also related to positive and negative affect. According to Snyder people with high hope have positive emotional states and an enthusiasm that stems from their history of goal pursuits. This may also establish a link between hope and agreeableness where in an individual is friendly and more altruistic in their tendencies.

 

Hope can impact one’s degree of sociability. Being hopeful also fosters relationships and strengthens them due to which hopeful individuals on an average may have better relationships. Therefore it can be said that a link between hope and extraversion also exists (Ghoolamipoor et al, 2015, Orojloo et al, 2016, Bakhshipour et al, 2012).

 

People high on hope are able to identify productive paths towards reaching their goals. They are open to new ideas and alternative ways of thinking. Hence it may also be said that hope may have a link with openness to experience. Hopeful individuals like those high on openness, are open to novel ideas and divergent pattern of thinking. This establishes a relationship between hope and openness to experience.

 

REVIEW OF LITERATURE:

Tiao, Yang, Luo and Qiang (2017) analysed the correlation between the level of hope, personality characteristics and the burden of care of the primary caregivers of advanced cancer patients. Results revealed that level of hope was positively correlated with the scores of extraversion and conscientiousness and negatively correlated with neuroticism, agreeableness and burden of care.

 

A cross cultural study by Claudia (2014) compared the levels of hope and personality traits in American and Brazilian adults which showed that Americans had higher scores in hope, positive affect and personality traits and a strong correlation between the variables.

 

A research study showed that hope does mediate in the effects of personality traits on life satisfaction. Results showed that hope completely mediates between extraversion and life satisfaction while acts as a partial mediator between neuroticism, conscientiousness and life satisfaction (Halama P, 2010).

 

A review of the existing literature seems to suggest that there exists a relationship between hope and the traits of personality. The present study attempts to understand an association between hope and the Big Five Factors of personality. Results may provide an insight in understanding how hope and its components, agency and pathways thinking, may have a differential impact on the various personality factors.

 

Method:

Participants:

The present study collected data on 235 participants in the age group 18-25 years, who were selected using purposive sampling technique.

 

Measures:

Snyder’s Hope Scale is a 12 item trait measure for adults aged 16 and older in which 4 items reflect pathway, 4 items reflect agency and 4 items are distracters. It was used to assess the hope variable (pathways and agency). The internal consistency is 0.8 and the test-retest reliability is 0.8 and above. There is extensive data on concurrent validity of hope scale in regard to its positive correlations with scales tapping similar concepts such as optimism and negative correlations with depression, etc.

 

NEO-Five Factor Personality Inventory is a 60 item inventory with a 5-point Likert scale. The Cronbach Alpha reliability coefficients for its various factors range from 0.76-0.90. The inventory also demonstrates convergent and discriminant validity.

 

Procedure:

Data was collected from 235 participants using purposive sampling technique. After the rapport formation, the participants were given clear instructions to fill their responses and thanked for their participation and time. In the present study, a descriptive correlational design was used to study the relationship between the two variables: hope and personality. A descriptive correlational design is a statistical measure to determine the relationship between two variables which gives an indication as to how one variable may predict another. However, correlation does not imply causation. So, the attempt in this study was made to understand how hope may impact the Big Five Factors.

 

RESULTS:

The following hypotheses were tested using the descriptive correlational design:

 

Hypothese 1 (a): There would be a significant relationship between conscientiousness and hope scores (agency and pathways thinking)

 

Hypothese 1 (b): There would be a significant relationship between extraversion and hope scores (agency and pathways thinking)

 

Hypotheses 1 (c): There would be a significant relationship between openness to experience and hope scores (agency and pathways thinking)

 

Hypotheses 1 (d): There would be a significant relationship between neuroticism and hope scores (agency and pathways thinking)

 

Hypotheses 1 (e): There would be a significant relationship between agreeableness and hope scores (agency and pathways thinking)

 

Table 1 Mean and standard deviation of hope and Big Five Personality Factors

Dimensions

Mean

Standard Devation

N

Total hope

45.80

7.773

235

Agency thinking

23.54

4.314

235

Pathway thinking

23.94

4.617

235

Neuroticism

25.98

7.062

235

Extraversion

27.34

6.852

235

Openness to experience

30.51

7.422

235

Agreeableness

28.07

6.499

235

Conscientiousness

29.05

7.032

235

 


 

Table 2 Correlation Matrix for Hope and Big Five Personality Factors

Correlations

 

 

Total hope

Agency thinking

Pathway thinking

Neuroticism

Extraversion

Openness to experience

Agreeableness

Conscientiousness

Total hope

Pearson Correlation

1

Agency thinking

Pearson Correlation

0.727**

1

Pathway thinking

Pearson Correlation

0.739**

0.484**

1

Neuroticism

Pearson Correlation

-0.173**

-0.075

-0.115

1

Extraversion

Pearson Correlation

0.295**

0.156*

0.268**

0.032

1

Openness to experience

Pearson Correlation

0.197**

0.313**

0.193**

0.264**

0.361**

1

Agreeableness

Pearson Correlation

0.024

0.034

0.01

0.179**

0.237**

0.313**

1

Conscientiousness

Pearson Correlation

0.377**

0.258**

0.210**

0.085

0.437**

0.506**

0.424**

1

 


Table 1 depicts the mean scores and the standard deviation obtained across the dimensions of personality and hope. Among the components of hope, the highest mean is that of total hope (M=45.80; SD=7.773) and the lowest mean is that of agency thinking (M=23.54; SD=4.314). Among the dimensions of personality, the highest mean is that of openness to experience (M=30.51; SD=7.422) and lowest mean is that of neuroticism (M=25.98; SD=7.062).

 

Table 2 depicts correlation between hope and Big Five Factors of personality. There is a significant relationship between hope and conscientiousness, extraversion, neuroticism and openness to experience.

 

DISCUSSION:

The aim of the present research was to study the relationship between hope and Big 5 personality factors. For the purpose a sample of 235 individuals were randomly selected through purposive sampling. Snyder’s Hope scale and the NEO-FFI were employed for the same. The study employed a correlational analysis design in order to study the relationship between the two variables. The findings have revealed significant positive relationship between extraversion, openness to experience and conscientiousness with the total hope scores and a significant negative relationship between neuroticism and hope scores. The obtained results are discussed below.

 

As can be seen in Table 2 there is a significant positive correlation between hope scores and scores obtained on extraversion (r= 0.295, p<.01), openness to experience (r=0.197, p<.01) and conscientiousness (r=0.377, p<.01), thus showing a strong positive correlation for hypothesis 1(a), 1(b) and 1(c).

 

Snyder has defined hope as a goal directed thinking in which individuals utilize the interaction of both ‘ pathways thinking’ which refers to the perceived capacity to find route to desired goals  and ‘agency thinking’ which refers to the requisite motivation to these goals. While researches have conceptualised extraversion as the degree to which people are socially active, assertive, outgoing and enterprising, they are also believed to be more optimistic and high spirited. Thus there is a higher probability of people high on extraversion to have high scores on hope. The optimism and enterprising characteristics of the extroverts could be highly instrumental in goal accomplishment behaviour.

Individuals who score high on openness to experience are described as ones with active imagination, aesthetic sensitivity, attentiveness to inner feelings, preference for variety and enjoy novel experiences and are receptive to ones’ inner feelings. Openness to experience is found to be linked to creativity and divergent thinking (McCrae, 1987). Since open individuals experience a great deal of novel ideas and thus are welcoming to all sorts of unconventionality. In addition, openness to experience is also behaviourally reflected in their willingness to try different routes to achieve their goals. Thus individuals who score high on openness to experience are also likely to obtain high scores on hope as their divergent approach facilitates goal directed behaviour and may help in achieving goals.

 

Further a conscientious individual is defined as purposeful strong willed and determined. Such individuals are competent and achievement-oriented and feel that they are well prepared to deal with life situations (Costa, Mc Crae et al, 1991). A significant relationship between conscientiousness and hope may be understood as a conscientious individual may have higher hope as they have high aspirations and work hard to achieve their goal while remaining optimistic and since hope involves a goal directed thinking; it may further facilitate motivation and belief about goal achievement.

 

As can be seen in table 2 there is a strong negative correlation between neuroticism and hope scores (r=-0.173, p<.01). Neuroticism refers to emotional instability and individuals high on neuroticism are described as apprehensive, fearful, nervous and tensed. Since hope is related to a positive outlook and optimism while striving towards ones goals, being constantly worried or anxious can hamper ones goal oriented efforts. The more the individual is anxious, the more are the chances of him/her feeling less hopeful in achieving objectives.

 

Interestingly the correlation between hope score and agreeableness is not statistically significant as can be seen in table 2. An agreeable person is accommodating, altruistic, helpful, sympathetic and compliant. Since Snyder referred to hope as goal directed thinking, a non-significant relationship between the two could be explained on the basis of the individualistic approach required in goal setting and engaging in goal directed behaviour which requires focused thinking and persistent efforts. A person high on agreeableness may lose focus while pursuing his/her own goals due to the altruistic urge to accommodate other’s interest.

 

The findings have clearly indicated a strong relationship between hope and personality. Researchers have often conceptualised hope as both trait and state. A trait is defined as generalised and personalised determining tendencies. Traits are also understood as consistent and stable modes of an individual adjustment to his/her environment. Since personality traits refer to a tendency to behave in a stable or consistent manner, a link between hope and personality traits further strengthens the trait approach of hope.

 

IMPLICATIONS OF THE STUDY:

·       The present study highlights the relationship between hope and big 5 personality traits, which could further be explored to investigate the causal relationship between the two.

·       The findings have highlighted the importance of stable tendencies or traits in understanding individual’s motivation and ability to adopt alternative routes for achieving one’s goals.

·       The personality trait-hope understanding could be used in designing interventions and their successful implementation by keeping in mind their dominant traits which is likely to have an impact on individual’s goal directed behaviour during treatment and the belief about benefitting from the intervention.

 

LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY:

Since self report inventories were employed, social desirability bias in responses cannot be ruled out.

The cause and effect relationship between the variables was not explored.

 

REFERENCES:

1.      Bakhshipour, B., Panahiyan, S., Hasanzadeh, R. and Tammadoni, A. (2014). Relationship between personality traits and happiness in patients with thalassemia. Zahedan Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, 16(11), 28-32

2.      Bryant, F.B. and Cvengros, J.A. (2004). Distinguishing Hope and Optimism: Two Sides of a Coin, or Two Separate Coins? Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 23(2), 273-302.

3.      Day, L., Hanson, K., Maltby, J. and Proctor, C.L. (2010). Hope uniquely predicts objective academic achievement above intelligence, personality, and previous academic achievement. Journal of Research in Personality, 44(4), 550-553.

4.      Ghoolamipoor, A., Jembari, A.K. and Ferdowsipoor, A. (2015). The Role of Five Major Factors of Personality in Predicting the Hope in students of Ahwaz and Shiraz University. Indian Journal of Fundamental and Applied Life Sciences, 5(1), 2449-2453.

5.      Halama, P. (2010). Hope as a mediator between personality traits and life satisfaction. Studia Psychologica, 52(4), 309-314

6.      Hutz, C., Midgett, A., Pacico, J., Bastianello, M. and Zanon, C. (2014). The relationship of hope, optimism, self-esteem, subjective well-being, and personality in Brazilians and Americans. Psychology, 5, 514-522.

7.      Jie, J., Li, Y., Zhiqin, L. and Wannin, Q. (2017). The relationship between the level of hope and personality, care of burden in the primary caregivers of advanced cancer patients. Chinese Journal of Practical Nursing, 33(23), 1766-1770.

8.      Orojloo, S. and Koolaee, A.K. (2016). Comparison between personality traits and hope among female headed households with or without tendency towards remarriage, Community Health, 3(2).

9.      Sharpe, J. P., Martin, N. R., and Roth, K. A. (2011). Optimism and the Big Five factors of personality: Beyond neuroticism and extraversion. Personality and Individual Differences, 51(8), 946-951.

10.   Verduyn, P. and Brans, K. (2014). The relationship between extraversion, neuroticism and aspects of trait affect. Personality and Individual Differences, 52(6), 664-669.

 

 

 

 

 

Received on 11.04.2019         Modified on 20.04.2019

Accepted on 09.05.2019      ©A&V Publications All right reserved

Res.  J. Humanities and Social Sciences. 2019; 10(3):861-865.

DOI: 10.5958/2321-5828.2019.00141.4