Measuring Hope in Children

Indicators of Positive Development Conference
March 12-13, 2003
Bureau of Labor Statistics Conference Center
Washington, DC


C.R. Snyder, University of Kansas

The author (Snyder, 1989, 1994) has defined hope as goal-directed thinking in which the person has the perceived capacity to find routes to goals (pathways thinking), and the motivation to use those routes (agency thinking). The developmental underpinning of this hopeful thought in the infant to toddler stage is described. Using this hope theory, the author and his colleagues (Snyder et al., 1997) have developed and validated a six-item self-report instrument called the Children’s Hope Scale (CHS) for children ages 7 though 15. An overview of the available validation research is given. In this regard, the CHS consistently factors into the posited pathways and agency components, and yet it manifests acceptably high internal consistently. Likewise, the CHS exhibits temporal stability in terms of similar scores emerging after a three-week retesting interval. Furthermore, the CHS produces considerable variation in scores across different children (i.e., response variability). Also, the discriminant validity of the CHS is established by its small correlations to measures of hopelessness and socially desirable responding. The concurrent validity of the CHS is shown by its moderate relationships with scores on measures of depression and loneliness (inverse correlations with hope) and perceived competency and control (positive correlations with hope). The CHS also manifests predictive validity in that it reliably predicts children’s performances on a cognitive achievement test taken several months later. To date,14 samples of CHS respondents have been gathered, involving a total of 2263 children in 15 separate states in the U.S. Given this set of validation activities, the CHS is deemed to be ready for inclusion as part of a national indicator system.