The development of self-determination depends on the emergence of positive beliefs about oneself and one's future. Research has suggested that these positive perceptions are the outcome of a process of learning and using problem-solving skills and the achievement of perceived or actual control, referred to as learned hopefulness. Expectations for the future (e.g., hopefulness/hopelessness) of students with mental retardation, learning disabilities, or students without disabilities were examined. Students with mental retardation were significantly less hopeful than were their peers with learning disabilities or without disabilities. Implications from these findings for the development of self-determination were discussed.

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