Hope theory

These observations are very consistent with Charles Snyder’s hope theory. Hope has both cognitive and affective elements. According to Snyder,1 there are three components associated with hope: 1) having goal-oriented thoughts; 2) developing strategies to achieve goals; and 3) being motivated to expend effort to achieve goals. An individual’s belief in their ability to realise these components determines the likelihood they will develop a sense of hope.

At risk youth may believe that anything bad that happens to them is out of their control or simply what they deserve. Peer-based programs help at risk youth set personal goals for their future and develop strategies that will help them achieve these goals. Providing a safe environment, practise opportunities, exposure to positive role models and opportunities to receive positive and constructive feedback and encouragement all contribute to the sense of personal agency that is important for achieving goals. This ‘agentic perspective’ is also en element of Social Cognitive Theory.2

By engaging at risk youth in activities and situations that they would not normally experience, programs can help to change beliefs held by at risk youth about what is possible for them. In so doing, peer-based programs may promote feelings of hopefulness and optimism amongst at risk youth.


  1. Snyder, C. (1994). The psychology of hope: You can get there from here. . New York, Free Press.
  2. Bandura, A. (1986). Social Foundations of Thought and Action:  A Cognitive Theory. Englewood Cliffs, Prentice Hall.