Do hopelessness/hopefulness manipulations affect reasons for living, suicidality, and/or depression in older adolescents?
Administered hopeful (HS+) or hopeless (HS$-$) versions of the Hopelessness Scale to manipulate hope, followed by the Hope Scale (HOPETOT), Reasons for Living Inventory (RFL), Self-Rating Depression Scale (ZUNG), Scale for Suicide Ideation (SSI), and demographic questions to 115 college students, who ranged from 18 to 19 years of age. The purpose was to evaluate the effect of manipulating hopelessness/hopefulness on reasons for living, depression, and suicidality in this nonclinical population. Analysis of variance on HOPETOT scores was not significant, indicating that the manipulation of hope was not successful. Post hoc assignment of the most hopeful of the HS+ group and most hopeless of the HS$-$ group resulted in a multivariate analysis of variance on the effect of new group on reasons for living, depression, and suicidality that was significant and indicated that the new HS+ group was significantly lower than the new HS$-$ group on depression. A second MANOVA on the effect of new group on the above dependent variables and RFL subscales Responsibility to Family (FAMRSP), Child Concerns (CHCON), Fear of Suicide (FEARSU), Fear of Social Disapproval (FEARSD), and Moral Objections (MOROBJ) was significant and indicated the new HS+ group was significantly lower than the new HS$-$ group on depression, FEARSU, and FEARSD. Present results show that hope was not successfully manipulated. However, those individuals with highest levels of hope were shown to be less depressed and less fearful of suicide and social disapproval than those with lowest levels of hope, suggesting that individuals experiencing subclinical levels of hopelessness are relatively more depressed than their hopeful counterparts and engage in adaptive life-maintaining cognitions. Future research should include younger children in the population sample. Use of a clinical sample should be explored using manipulations of hopefulness only.