A Poverty of Hope: Towards a Psychology of Humanitarian Success

In today’s world, we find that efforts to better the world accomplish much, but lacking an understanding of psychology and its potential implementations, leave the greater good yet undone. For example, there are many efforts to build schools around the world, but by not supplying committed teachers, the building is only a shell for what it could have been. Are the students being given the hope that they will be able to change at least their world and rise to intellectual, social, and economic heights? Or is the psychology of hope missing and they feel that while many will be benefited, it will not be for them to succeed? Other examples, are curing malaria, but leaving people in both psychological and economic poverty. They will live longer, true, but in poverty, with poor quality of life. While NGOs receive funds, they often do not do the good they aim for because they give things, but do not impart or change the self. A number of studies now show that hope is a powerful predictor of future success. A classic example is that of college students, who are often young, poor, some married with families, and how, though financially and healthwise they are the same, they differ from people who live in inner-city projects. In the students, there is the hope that their current work and poverty will end and they will join the middle class. Those in projects, with similar levels of poverty, lack hope for a better future which leads to greater crime, depression, and drug abuse. This talk concerns the research that shows how programs and implementations can meet both physical and psychological needs, how taking into account psychology can enhance humanitarian success and achieve far more than simply extending life. Psychology, so implemented, can make life worth living.

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Posted by IAFOR