Link(s) Between Hope and Social Mobility

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Links Between 'having hope' and 'increasing social mobility' in the US and UK

Having hope seems to have a positive impact on social mobility, in both the US and the UK. There is little specific empirical evidence on the topic, however there is data to suggest that hope positively impacts a variety of factors that contribute to social mobility.


In order to answer your question I searched through recently published academic papers, and also online articles, on the topic of how hope can impact social mobility. I first looked for studies and empirical data relating exclusively to the US, and then to the UK. I found that this area is not particularly well studied, with not much empirical data available on the subject. Therefore, I then searched for studies on how hope can impact factors relating to social mobility, such as academic success, job success, mental and physical well-being and more.

Finally, I have split the findings into 3 sections, the first for data relating specifically to the US, the second to data from the UK, and a third section for data collected from unspecified samples. I included the third section because information on this subject was fairly sparse, with only one relevant recently published article available relating to the UK. Therefore, the final section is to give more detail on this topic in general, regardless of geographic area.


— A 2017 study found that hope partially mediates the relationship between socioeconomic status and academic achievement. It also found that hope directly influences academic achievement in a diverse sample of adolescents. This suggests that hope can positively impact social mobility by first enabling people to achieve better academically.

— It has been found that finding meaning leads to maintaining hope. This is has been shown to be particularly useful for those facing adversity. Finding meaning in these situations allows one to maintain hope in order to fuel optimism and resilience, and makes a person more likely to succeed and move forward (this may be in terms of socioeconomic status).

— After controlling for the effects of sociodemographic and psychosocial variables, this 2014 study found that hope emerged was the sole predictor of physical health and mental health. This shows us that having hope can lead to positive effects on physical and mental health, which in turn may lead to improved social mobility relating to a lack of burdens due to poor physical or mental health.


— This 2015 UK study found that hope was positively correlated with adolescent job success. They also found that setting of autonomous goals, positive affective experience at work and occupational self-efficacy beliefs were also positively impacted by a person's dispositional hopefulness. This study shows how hope may have the impact of increasing social mobility through increasing job performance.


— Having hope leads to people developing a mindset that allows them to develop strategies to achieve success. The conceptualization of hope leads to people setting learning goals, these are conducive to growth and improvement. Growth and improvement can then positively impact on a person's social mobility. Learning goals are linked with success in academic achievement, sports, arts, science and business. It has been seen that people who lack hope tend to adopt mastery goals rather than learning goals. Mastery goals lead to people choosing easy tasks that don’t offer challenge or opportunities for growth.

— In general, there is a body of empirical work which suggests a link between hope and positive psychological functioning. It is thought that hope is related to pathway thinking, where an individual perceives feasible ways to achieve their desired goals. Through activating pathway thinking, hope may have the impact of helping people to achieve their goals, and therefore enabling social mobility.

— Finally, I also found that those who have hope in their adolescent years are more likely to have a better emotional well-being in later life. While this is not directly related to social mobility, it shows how hope can have a positive impact on factors that may indirectly impact social mobility.


To sum up, I have found that overall hope seems to have a positive effect on social mobility. Studies from the US have shown it to influence academic achievement, it has been seen to fuel optimism and resilience, and have a positive impact on physical health and mental health. In the UK it has been seen to improve job success. In general studies have found that it helps people to achieve success through adopting learning goals and improving psychological functioning as well as emotional well-being.