How Do Hope and Optimism Vary Across Time and Culture?

Differences in Hope and Optimism Across Sub-groups, Time, and Culture

  • Sociology
  • Political Science

Principal Investigators

Tom W. Smith
Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Society
NORC at the University of Chicago


The Optimism and Hope across Time and Cultures project will use well-established measures of optimism/hope to examine differences across sub-groups, time, and cultures. The initial stage analyzes data already collected on the General Social Survey (GSS) and would examine the different available measures, conduct sub-group analysis, and develop models of optimism/hope. The second stage would add an Optimism and Hope Module to the 2016 GSS. By replicating items from previous GSSs, it would create a time series to study societal change of optimism/hope and by expanding that inventory with additional items from the Revised Life Orientation Test and other standard scales, it would augment what is available from prior GSSs. The final stage would field a battery of optimism and hope items from the 2016 GSS on surveys in other countries. It is estimated that national samples of adults could be collected in 4-5 additional countries.