Emerging research has begun to investigate hope in the context of intractable intergroup conflicts (e.g., Halperin, Crisp, Husnu, Dweck, & Gross 2012). Feeling hopeful in the context of such conflicts is associated with positive intergroup outcomes. For example, in the case of intractable conflicts, hope predicts lower desire for retaliation (Moeschberger, Dixon, Niens, & Cairns, 2005), support for concessions (Cohen-Chen, Halperin, Crisp, & Gross, 2013), willingness to provide intergroup aid (Halperin & Gross, 2011), and reduced dehumanization of out-groups (Halperin, Bar-Tal, Nets-Zehngut, & Almog, 2008). We investigate hope in relation to intergroup contexts that involve ongoing inequality with clear advantaged majority and disadvantaged minority groups. We are particularly interested in methods of encouraging advantaged groups to take action on behalf of disadvantaged groups. This can be difficult to achieve, given that advantaged groups are often motivated to inhibit, rather than support, social change (e.g., Jost, Banaji, & Nosek, 2004; Sidanius & Pratto, 2001). A critical question, therefore, is how to motivate advantaged groups to support social action that ultimately threatens their privileged position.
There are reasons to expect that hope might inspire support for social change. Anecdotally, political leaders successfully generate support for social change by using messages of hope to inspire their followers (Branzei, 2012; Obama, 2006). Indeed, Barack Obama was elected as the first African American President of the United States after campaigning on a platform of hope and change. Likewise, Martin Luther King Jr. appealed to hope to mobilize support for the civil rights movement (Washington, 1991). Although researchers have begun to take an interest in hope in intergroup contexts, most studies to date investigate hope as an outcome or treat it as a mediator (e.g., Halperin & Gross, 2011). While research has shown that a belief in change generates feelings of hope (e.g., Cohen-Chen et al., 2013), the opposite path has not been investigated. It is therefore unclear whether hope can be used to generate support for social change or if it is merely a by-product of believing change is possible, or whether both processes operate.