How we perceive the future can greatly affect how we feel in the present. Even a currently positive situation is hard to bear when we know the future will be grim. Indeed, previous research has found that more hopeful people are happier. However, both hope and subjective well-being are multidimensional concepts comprising emotion (i.e., anticipation and affect), cognition (expectation and satisfaction) and, to some degree, motivation. Since most studies include only one dimension of hope and subjective well-being, little is known about how different aspects of hope relate to different aspects of subjective well-being. This study aims to gain insight into these relationships by providing an overview of the existing empirical literature on hope and subjective well-being. Subsequently, cross-sectional data of a representative sample of the American population are used to further examine the relationship between hope and subjective well-being. Our findings from both the literature and our empirical analysis show that positive expectations are only weakly associated with all domains of subjective well-being, whereas cognitive and emotional hope are most strongly related to subjective well-being. This finding indicates that the more passive characteristics of positive expectations have less of an impact on subjective well-being than a more agentic hopeful disposition.

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Applied Research in Quality of Life
Department of Applied Economics

Pleeging, E., Burger, M., & van Exel, J. (2020). The relations between hope and subjective well-being: A literature overview and empirical analysis. Applied Research in Quality of Life. doi:10.1007/s11482-019-09802-4