Well, hey everybody, I'm excited to have Dr. Ebi Trevino in this conversation today. I've actually been nerding out for quite a while, which is not a rare experience for me, but maybe a year ago, someone said, hey, I have to introduce you to a friend of mine.
Scott Schimmel (01:01.602)
She's a researcher in the science of hope. And I think I had a guffaw or some sort of chortle. I'm looking at the source about what those mean. When I was like science of hope, like my grandma had a pillow with the word hope on it. So I don't think of like hard sciences when it comes to fluffy concepts like hope. But I was intrigued nevertheless, and we hopped on a call and have become friends since then. And so what I love to do.
is introduce folks to this concept of the science of hope. And maybe we can start off with just a little bit of your story and how you stumbled into this research space. So welcome and love to hear from you, Evi.
Sure, thank you, Scott. As a quantitative psychologist, I started studying positive psychology about 18 years ago. And as a researcher and statistician, just really started looking for ways to help people live flourishing lives. And so I worked with nonprofits for many, many years doing outcomes research. Then about 12, 13 years ago stumbled upon Hope.
And like you, I thought to myself, really, what is this? Because as a quantitative psychologist, I like numbers, factual, hard truths. And the positive psychology posits that hope is to date of all the character traits, the single best predictor of wellbeing. And I thought, really?
But over the last 12 years, in investigating that, that is what we have found. And most of my research has been working with individuals who have been through some pretty hard experiences. So it is true for all of us, as those who have been through traumatic events, as those who have been through maybe more average lives. But anyways, hope is it's a pretty cool concept and...
excited to talk about it today.
Scott Schimmel (03:13.45)
Yeah, when I think first heard about it, obviously at first I thought of this is very fluffy. It's more of a concept maybe than a science. But I also have found that I've used the phrase a lot. I mean, I use the phrase flippantly all the time. I hope it doesn't rain today. I hope we have a good lunch. I hope this meeting doesn't go on for long.
And then other concepts of it too, I think having been in the kind of intervention or nonprofit space myself for my career, lots and lots of times I've said, or I've been around organizations that talk about instilling hope in other people, having just kind of that being an outcome. So could you define what hope is? Like what is hope and what makes it different than maybe the fluffy concepts of it?
Sure, good question. So hope is defined in the science as the belief that the future will be better and you have the power to make it happen. And we differentiate hope from a wish. So all of those times when you say, I hope it doesn't rain, what you're really meaning is wish. So we define, we differentiate hope from a wish or optimism. Now, if I were to say, I believe the future is better,
That's optimism. And so it's really great to be optimistic. There are a lot of positive things associated with it being optimistic, but it lacks the powerful predictability, powerful predict, it lacks the powerful prediction that hope does.
Scott Schimmel (06:22.89)
I have thought of that often because I've worked professionally with students, high school and college students for the past 20 something years. And oftentimes we're having conversations about their future. And most of the time, I've actually it'd be really hard for me to think of anybody that I've ever talked to, regardless of the demographic that they're in, where they had a pessimistic view of their future. I can't think of anybody that's a teenager or college student, but the rub is
I guess I've watched in them as I saw in myself, a kind of sit back and wait kind of idea. Like, yeah, my future is gonna be great. I have a great future ahead of me, but I've got, you know, I'm just like on this, I'm just in the streams, I'm in the current. And I know what the current is. And typically the anxiety for young person comes like after college, or if they're not going to college, it's like after high school.
when it seems like the current stops for them. Up until then, there's like, the next step is get into a college. The next step is do college well. The next step is get an internship. But once you get past those things, then it's just like a little bit more aimless in a sense. So I think good meaning people like me, or imagine your uncle at a Thanksgiving dinner, starts asking, so what are you thinking about doing? And a young person says, well, I don't know.
but it's gonna be great. The anxiety kind of goes up, the fear goes up, and we start saying things like, well, you know what you gotta do is, and we're trying to, I think, push the pedal on the personal responsibility side. Am I kind of describing that dynamic appropriately? How does that fit within the concept of science?
Sure, that's great. And you're in line with what we're seeing with our youth today. A recent Gallup showed that majority of our youth in the US are optimistic. Largely, they're all very optimistic, but less than half are hopeful. And so what you're saying is absolutely correct that the vast majority of our youth today believe that my future is bright, they don't have a plan and how to make that.
And we know from the research that hope is a thinking process. And for that reason, it's teachable. So every single one of these youth and our young adults who are going through that process of discovering what they want to do as they mature in adulthood, that we can teach them the concepts of hope. And then they can make a plan, not just have this idealized
vision of the future, but they can actually make a plan and then start walking that out.
Scott Schimmel (09:08.866)
Yeah. Okay, so that's helpful, you know, folks listening who will be around the holiday table soon or bump into a neighbor, or maybe you're listening and you're an educator and you work with kids every day, students. That's actually really helpful. Like, am I hearing an optimistic person or a hopeful person? How do you, is there a way conversationally to kind of suss that out? Like, is there a way?
that you found to be like, what questions would I ask or how would I quickly kind of decipher which one's which?
Sure. Hope is comprised of three components. And so at the cornerstone of hope is goal setting. And so that young person, that individual needs to be setting a goal. And it has to be a goal that they value, right? So it's not the goal that mom and dad want them to do, or maybe that uncle gives them a good idea. But it has to be something that they want for themselves.
Scott Schimmel (10:03.744)
And once they have that valued goal, then there are two components that are needed to reach that goal. The first one is the pathways. And those are the mental strategies to reaching your goal. So say he chooses a career in engineering and he's going through college and all the things. And the pathways, the pathways, those mental strategies, those are your sort of your roadmap.
Scott Schimmel (10:35.395)
And what we find is that high hope people are very good at coming up with multiple pathways. And when they reach an impasse, maybe they don't get into the right graduate school or something happens with that internship or they get a poor review from someone. High hope people are able to, on problem solving, come up with more pathways so that they can reach their ultimate goal. And then finally, the third component is willpower.
Scott Schimmel (10:54.216)
That is the mental energy to reach your goal. That is the willpower piece. So in order for a person to be high hope, they have to have a valued goal, the pathways towards that goal, and then the motivation toward that goal. And we know that being intrinsically motivated is more effective than being extrinsically motivated. So if I really want this for myself, and I can tell you my why, I'm gonna be more likely to reach that goal.
Scott Schimmel (11:40.662)
Okay, that is super helpful. So first part, like asking questions typically starts with, so what are you thinking about doing? What are your plans? And if there's a sense of vagueness, I would then start to kinda, in my mind, imagine this person's probably on the low hope if you don't have any goals. And yet you're kinda, you know, neutral about it or positive about it, that's probably a warning sign.
So questions to help somebody decipher and unpack maybe what they do want, that's one. Let's say they do have something, which is what you're saying, like it's engineering or I really love sports, the sports industry, and they've got like one idea for that. So therefore I'm gonna be this kind of engineer and go to this program. I could probably start asking questions like, and if that doesn't work out, like not to be a W downer, but what would you do if, and if they are really shutting down.
That's another indication that there's some growth area there. And then the last question I think would be, let's say they do have both, they can imagine all these, but to what degree are you working on that now? The evidence of your, not just excitement, so what have you been doing to lean forward? And if I'm hearing things like, oh, I'm doing constant research, or I'm talking to people, I'm taking professors out to lunch, or whatever that looks like, there's some forward progress.
those three indicators would actually be a grid to say, this person is what, like destined to do better? Like maybe you can talk a little bit about what do high hope people get? Like what's the successful high hope person do? What happens with them?
Sure. So, high hope people are, they think positively about the future. So they're really good about dreaming about the future. And so they generally have a series of short-term goals and long-term goals, right? That are, you know, on their minds. They are...
just totally blanked. Bye.
Scott Schimmel (13:54.114)
No, it's fine. I remember thinking like reading in Hope, reading Hope Rising, there's like, there's and you might add it's totally fine if you don't have this like off the top of your head. There are
No, my mind went in two different directions. So kind of to what do hi-ho people do or what?
Scott Schimmel (14:09.314)
Scott Schimmel (14:14.998)
I'm kind of asking like what are the outcomes of having high hope from a broad standpoint like if
Okay, so because I can talk about short term versus long term achievement versus avoidant, or I can go into the well being, the workplace, all of that. That's where my brain was simultaneously trying to figure out which track to go on.
Scott Schimmel (14:31.854)
I, oh, yeah, I like that. I like that third one to start and then I'll help you get to the short term, long term, and then we'll get to achievement versus avoidance.
Okay, great. I'm gonna pull up this one slide.
Scott Schimmel (14:51.822)
and start when you're having this, it's super easy to edit.
Okay, so we see, did you tell me to go or did you tell me to wait? I'm sorry.
Scott Schimmel (15:02.684)
Go for it. Yeah, anytime.
So what we see in high hope people is a greater sense of wellbeing. They are also at better able to cope with stress. And this is because they have more resources, they can problem solve. We see greater life satisfaction. We see a higher positive affect and a lower negative affect. That means no greater happiness, less depression, less anxiety.
Higher hope people have healthier relationships. And we know that hope happens in communities, so this is a natural outcome of that. In the workplace, we see increased productivity. A higher hope person is productive one day a week, more than lower hope individuals. We see more meaningful life in the workplace for higher hope individuals. And in schools,
One of my favorite statistics is, if not my favorite statistic, is that HOPE is a great predictor of academic achievement. And what we have seen in the research is that HOPE is a better predictor of first-year college success than GPA or SAT scores. And that's just a really profound finding that we've seen. And so sure, let's make sure our students are getting the best education and they have all of these opportunities.
But of equal importance, let's make sure that we're building hopeful thinking of that goal setting, the willpower and the pathways thinking are of equal importance to building intellect.
Scott Schimmel (16:50.262)
That's that's kind of insane. I mean, you just rattled off 12, probably, things. And if you just sat with a few of those, it's pretty astounding. Would you help me? Because now I'm now I'm all in okay, conceptually, I want those outcomes. Now, how do I start teaching this? What is it? What are some of the ways in which you make
people more hopeful. I'm almost stumbling for the words because there's such... the phrases and words we're using are such commonplace words. You're actually... you're not speaking like a... I don't know, like a researcher. You're actually using vernacular that we normally use but in ways we don't normally use it. So how do you help someone become more hopeful?
Sure. So the first thing is to talk about goals. So I have three kids and whether it's for the school year, and a lot of times I do this informally, I'm not handing them a sheet of paper making them complete a worksheet, but informally I'll say, so what does it look like for the semester? What are your goals? Or my kids, all three of them play basketball. So what are two things that you're working on for the season leading up?
to your basketball season. What are two skills that you wanna work on? And then I'll ask them, how are you gonna do that? So if we're talking about basketball, my son, who's now a freshman when he was in seventh grade, he was on the middle school basketball team and he wanted to get more playing time and he's not the biggest kid so.
Scott Schimmel (18:25.388)
He was a shooting guard position and his goal was to get playing time and to improve his three point shot and ultimately help his team win. And so he wanted to improve his three point shot because he knew it would give him the edge that he needed. Defensively he was good but he just needed offensively to improve. And so over the summer he practiced over and over and over. He practiced here at home. He took duct tape and petted on the concrete and practiced at every angle.
Scott Schimmel (19:08.268)
He got some, you know, private coaching when it was school started back, his coaching coaches gave him, you know, some tips and then he just practiced over and over and over and over and over. So you're seeing all of these different pathways that he was using. These were the middle strategies he was using to improve his three point shot. And so the willpower piece, you know, how did he stay motivated? He wanted to play time. Bottom line, he wanted to play time.
Scott Schimmel (19:39.106)
So he knew that in order to do that, he had to put in the work. And so he did over and over. And he also, his best buddies play basketball. So socially, this is a fun thing for him. Whenever there are games, good bit of our family shows up. So he was supported and that's important in Hope to be supported. Because we know that Hope grows in connection with other people.
Scott Schimmel (20:06.058)
And so, you know, the first couple of games, he was doing okay. Um, but he wouldn't landing the three shots like he wanted. And so he was a little frustrated and I was like, don't worry about it. Just, just keep after it. And I think it was about the fourth or fifth game in, he, uh, he hit a three point shot and it was one of those games where, um, you know, it's close. The energy is pretty tight. Um, everyone's a little bit stressed and he hit that first shot and it was just a wow shot and really, you know,
flipped the energy and then he hit a second three-point shot. By the time he hit the three-point shot, the high school guys are standing up and cheering. Really from that point on until now, he's a different player. What we know is that hope produces more hope. So over the course of the summer, he had worked and then he began to achieve this a little bit and it gave him confidence to
really believe that, you know, I can probably do this. And then after he achieved it, it really helped him move to this next level of, well, I was able to do that really hard thing that took me, it was a culmination of six months of work and effort. And well, I mean, surely whatever I wanna do in basketball, I'm able to achieve that. You know, so whenever we're working with, you know, we're talking with our own children or, you know,
Scott Schimmel (21:09.32)
a teacher's working with students is to ask them, you know, what's important to you? What do you want to achieve? And then ask them why, because we're all going to face some kind of difficulty on the road, right? It's rarely that we get from A to B and it's over, right? It's usually A to B, we got 14 roadblocks and we finally get to on down the road, meet that goal. And so understanding a person's why,
it communicates their willpower, their motivation. And so, you know, when my son was frustrated and kind of, I could tell he was thinking, man, am I gonna be able to achieve this? I just reminded him, well, why is this important to you? And that provides that motivation to continue because, right, it's gonna get hard. And then the pathways piece, you know, I hope people are able to say multiple pathways. And then whenever they reach an impasse,
they're able to problem solve. And there's a couple of reasons why they're able to problem solve. They have that mental toughness that they have learned, but they oftentimes also have people and resources. And so, my son had a couple coaches, he had buddies, he had family members, right? Who were either giving him tips or cheering him on. And so, asking those pertinent questions of,
Scott Schimmel (22:46.467)
What's your goal? Because some young people have not learned that. I need to be forward thinking, and I do need to be setting goals. Because if I'm not setting goals, then I'm going to wander aimlessly. And wandering aimlessly doesn't have the same life outcomes of being purposeful and goal setting and making a plan for the future.
Scott Schimmel (23:03.713)
Scott Schimmel (23:20.007)
Scott Schimmel (23:24.258)
Wow. One, that's awesome, thank you. One thing that came up as you were saying that, to be asking questions about what they want and why they want it. What's your advice? What's maybe the research on, I'm thinking of all the times I hear young people say what they want, and I have this kind of gut response.
of like, you know, I guess in a nutshell, that sounds like a very immature, on one hand immature kind of desire goal, or sometimes on the other hand, it's like it is so ludicrous what you're saying. It's so far from reality, your reality. So maybe can you speak to either of those?
Sure, that's a good question and I get this question a lot. So, you know, the nature of our goals communicates some different things. You know, developmentally, it's appropriate for a, you know, a six or seven year old like my daughter, you know, wants to be the next Simone Biles, right? She's in elementary school, fine, right? We're not gonna put in the hours to be.
But, or you may have, you know, a child in elementary who, you know, wants to be, you know, in the MBA. And so, you know, as a parent or as a teacher, you might think, well, you're not fitting in the time now. But oftentimes, at that young age, as I'll say, okay, well, what do you need to do to reach that goal? And so, you know, even when you get into
Scott Schimmel (24:55.436)
Say, you know, he wants to be in the MBA and you're really thinking that he doesn't have the skill set to maybe do that You know, maybe ask that student. Well, what do you need to do to get into the MBA? You have to make good grades now You have to get into college Don't have to put in the work. So sometimes having goals that are Maybe they don't seem feasible If you can help them to come up with a plan and there's a lot of good things that they can do while they're working on that
Scott Schimmel (25:17.399)
Scott Schimmel (25:24.999)
And then on the road to maturity, they will probably come to terms with, oh, this isn't actually what I want. What I really want is this. Something else that we commonly see is individuals either set achievement or avoidant type goals. So our analogy on the basketball court. So my son, he had a goal
Scott Schimmel (25:51.476)
to make a shot when he got on the court and ultimately help his team win. That's an achievement goal. He wants to achieve something. So when he got on the court, someone threw the ball, he was either looking to make a clean shot or to pass to someone else who was open so that they could make a good shot, right? So let's compare this with a student or with a player who he gets on the court and his goal is to not get a turnover. So,
Scott Schimmel (26:40.619)
We call that an avoidant goal. You're trying to avoid something. And his goal was to avoid not messing up. So when he gets the ball, he's trying to get rid of it as quickly as possible so he doesn't mess up. So you can see how both of those players behave very differently on the court. High hope people are more likely to set achievement goals. Lower hope people are more likely to set avoidant goals.
Scott Schimmel (27:08.363)
fear and anxiety. And so, you know, if you're talking with someone and you're sensing these avoidant goals, right, you know, simply having them reframe it, it's not going to do the trick. But as they move towards their goals and they become more confident in their ability, you can teach them how to move from an avoidant mindset, a fear-based mindset.
Scott Schimmel (27:24.002)
Scott Schimmel (27:37.122)
to more of a hopeful mindset, and they'll be much better at setting achievement type goals.
Scott Schimmel (27:48.162)
Wow, that's been really relevant. You shared that with me recently and I'm coaching my daughter's soccer teams, nine and 10 year old girls. There's two players in the team that stand out to me. One has obviously low hope, avoiding goals. Every time the ball comes to her, immediately she gives it away as fast as she can, whether it's out of bounds, backwards, it doesn't matter. And so working with her, it's actually developed.
because of what you taught me, the ball handling skills, she had this moment last night in a practice where she scored a goal. And it was this huge moment for her, it seemed like, just she was lit up. And on the other side, there's the top player in our team. All she does is shoot. She never passes and she's fantastic. She's scored so many goals this year, but it's actually not, she's not a good player because all she does is shoot. And she might be...
halfway down the field and she takes a shot and it's impressive, but it misses or anyways. So I've been working with her because of what you taught me. Like just because she has an achievement goal, be the best player, score the most goals, doesn't mean she's a good player. So I've been talking with her about, in my mind I'm trying to give her another achievement goal, which would be to be a player that helps other girls score as well. And so I started last night just to see her for the first time to start giving the ball away.
And she's very new at that. It didn't go well, but I was encouraging like, yes. And that, and a part of it was, don't you want to play in a competitive team? Are you thinking about playing in high school? Yes. I'm like, so these are the steps you're going to have to take. And then now, now I believe she can figure out the pathways to learn how to pass because she has the skills, but that alone has been really helpful as a grid. Otherwise, I don't, without that, without you kind of teaching me that.
I think I just would have complained about both of them and not really known what to do with them. And just been a little bit frustrated and maybe said some things out of harshness or frustration, but that's been really, really helpful. So thank you for that. And it has real life application. One of the last questions I have for you is around measuring hope. And I'm guessing if for someone listening.
Scott Schimmel (30:04.938)
you know, thinking of on two levels, one individually, is there a way to kind of besides conversationally, is there a way to test someone's hope? And then, like on top of that, can you can you kind of get a sense for a community or a classroom or maybe your family? Or if you're running an organization like I do, I really, really want to know if and especially as you said, if hope, instilling hope is the best predictor of all of these things, like
Yeah, so how do we how do we test it?
Good question. This is my quantitative psychologist. This is my favorite question. No, all the questions were good. So the measurement of hope is fun. I love it. And there are two measures of hope. Well, one for children and one for adults. I utilize Snyder's hope measures. And so if you Google Snyder's hope scale,
Scott Schimmel (30:43.542)
for children and Snyder's Hope Scale for adults, they will pop up. So the adult scale has eight items and the children's scale has six items. And for the adult scale, four items measure, essentially half of the items measure willpower and half the items measure pathways. That can be used individually. You can score it and then you could look at those two different subscales. So we'll look at.
what their pathway score is and what their willpower score is. It can be used in a classroom. I've used it at the community level, where we have assessed the hope of an entire city or handful of cities that live in the same county. And so it can be used in a single individual. I've had some therapists recommend that some therapists have used it.
with clients, so the individual level. And then in addition to that, asking, do you have a valued goal or valued goals that you're working toward? That can give an individual a good snapshot of where they are at, or maybe where someone else and their family's at or in a classroom.
Scott Schimmel (32:14.094)
Scott Schimmel (32:23.073)
Scott Schimmel (32:26.208)
How soon, like if I wanted to see progress with a kid or with an organization, would I wanna meet with a year, a month, a week? Like how, what would be, I'm not a quantitative anybody, so I don't even know how to ask that. How soon can I see if it went up or not?
Sure. Good question. In a relatively short time period, I have observed hope increase. And I say relatively short time period because if you read a hope article and spend 10 minutes, it's gonna take a little bit longer. I'll do trainings over, you know, a five or six hour training and I'll see individuals levels of hope increase. I have...
worked with Camp Hope America. They do a camp for children who've been through some pretty difficult things. And over the course of a week, we see hope increase at statistically significant levels. And then even at follow-up 30 days later, we see that hope continues to increase because we know that hope produces more hope. And so how long does it take? That's really, you know, up to the individual.
You know, if you're working with someone who is very low hope, it's not going to be overnight that they suddenly become high hope. And really, we don't need that, right? Because as we begin to change a person's level of hope, their thinking changes, their behaviors change, and then it just happens over time. For me, you know,
Scott Schimmel (34:08.083)
If I'm gonna be intentional, if I find myself in a little bit of a slump with my hope, I can be high hope in one area of my life and lower hope in another domain of my life. I'm not thinking to myself, okay, I just feel stuck. So I need to be mindful, I need to come up with a plan. And really over a relatively short time period, we can begin changing our thinking and seeing more hope.
Scott Schimmel (34:33.698)
and those outcomes begin to happen.
Scott Schimmel (34:48.337)
Oh, that's awesome. That makes me hopeful. Last question, if I want to nerd out on this, if I want to go deeper, what are the top resources you'd recommend? And we'll include them in the notes for this.
So you can look over at my website. I have resources available. I also have links to articles and other resources that I think you might find helpful. And those are just a variety of ways that you can begin to learn about hope and implement those things in your own life.
Scott Schimmel (36:50.706)
That's perfect. Thank you. And I think also, it's for you listening. This is for me too. It's there's some sort of self assessment in this. Obviously you can take the hope score, the hope assessment and get your own score. But I think this, a sense of using this as a framework to think about your own sense of hope. I know it's been helpful for me as I think about honestly, my, my parenting, my marriage, my work, like through the lens of hope.
What do I want? What are the things I can do to get that and move forward on that? And I pay attention now more than ever to my own sense of kind of level of willpower throughout the day. And sometimes I just recognize I don't have it right now. Even this morning, I was kind of slow starting on the day. And so I went and did something that I knew would be kind of an easy win. Like I just, I mean, honestly, I put a string in my daughter's cello and I watched it.
two minute YouTube video how to do it. And as soon as that was done, I was like, there we go. I can do anything if I could do that. And so it's been a very, very helpful like self reflection grid for myself. And I think that will help me with my kids, with the people I serve. And so I'd recommend you using this almost like a prompts for your journal in addition to reading the journal articles, put this in yours as well. So anyways, thank you.
Evy, thank you for blowing my minds and as we're listening and again, if you want to learn more, head to our website. The link will be in the notes here. And here's to you and a more hopeful future.
Thanks, Scott. Enjoyed it.
Scott Schimmel (38:35.79)