What Makes A Hero Essay

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. You don’t have to be big and strong to be a hero. Anyone can be a hero, just by being kind and helping others.

So, what makes someone a hero? Is it their ability to fly, or their super strength? No, it’s not about having superpowers. Heroes are made by their actions – by doing things to help other people, even if it means putting themselves in danger.

Heroes inspire us. They show us that we can make a difference in the world, no matter who we are. They remind us to be brave, and to never give up hope. So next time you see a hero, remember to thank them for being an inspiration to us all.

I think that bravery is distinct from altruism and compassion. My coworkers and I have been investigating the nature and origins of heroism for the past five years, examining outstanding cases of bravery and conducting thousands of interviews with individuals regarding their decisions to act (or not act) heroically. We’ve come up with a definition for heroism as an activity that includes several elements over the last five years.

First, heroism always involves some risk. The person who risks his or her life to save another is risking something of tremendous value—their own life—in order to help someone else. Second, heroism always entails going beyond the call of duty. A fireman who does his job and nothing more is not a hero; a fireman who runs into a building to save a child even though it’s against the rules is. Finally, heroism requires what we call “moral courage”: the willingness to confront evil or face danger despite feeling fear.

So, heroism is risky, goes beyond the call of duty, and requires moral courage. But these three factors don’t make someone a hero on their own. For example, someone who risks their life to save another but does so impulsively and without thought is not a hero. Similarly, someone who goes beyond the call of duty but does so out of a sense of obligation or duty, rather than choice, is not a hero. And finally, someone who faces danger courageously but does so without caring about others is not a hero.

So what does make someone a hero? We believe it’s a combination of all three factors—risk, going beyond the call of duty, and moral courage—along with two other key ingredients: altruism and compassion. Altruism is the selfless concern for the well-being of others; it motivates people to help others even when there is no personal gain involved. Compassion is the feeling of empathy and concern for others; it allows people to understand the suffering of others and motivates them to help.

It begins with the fulfillment of needs—whether those are human, social, or communal—or in defense of certain values. Second, it is engaged in voluntarily, even in military situations, as heroism remains a behavior that goes beyond what is required by military service. Third, an heroic deed is one carried out with knowledge of and willingness to face possible consequences such as bodily harm or personal reputation damage; the actor is willing to make any sacrifice necessary. Finally, it takes place without any selfish motives on the part of the actor.

So what does this mean for our everyday lives? We may not be called upon to put our lives on the line like the firefighters who ran into the World Trade Center on 9/11, but we can all find ways to be heroes in our own way. It might be as simple as volunteering for a local charity or speaking up for someone who is being bullied. Whatever form it takes, heroism is always about making a positive difference in the world. And that’s something we can all aspire to.

According to that definition, altruism is a form of heroism that isn’t always life-threatening. Compassion may lead to bravery, but we don’t know if it does. We’re just now beginning to scientifically distinguish between heroes and other terms.

One of the most famous studies on heroism was conducted by the social psychologist Philip Zimbardo, now at Stanford University. In 1971, he and his colleagues randomly assigned college students to play the role of prisoner or guard in a simulated jail.

The study had to be shut down after just six days because the “guards” became sadistic and the “prisoners” were so traumatized they had to be released early. Zimbardo has argued that what made some students more likely to adopt their roles—and, in particular, what made some students more likely to become cruel guards—was not their personalities but the situation they found themselves in.

This finding has been replicated in many other studies, which have shown that when people are placed in positions of power, they become more likely to abuse that power. Given this, it’s perhaps not surprising that some research has found that people who are more likely to help others are those who feel powerless in their everyday lives.

So heroism may be a response to feeling powerless—but it’s not always effective. Helping behavior is often context-specific: People will help in some situations but not others. And even when people do help, their actions don’t always have the intended effect. Good Samaritans, for example, sometimes make things worse by inadvertently scaring away would-be helpers or by providing ineffective assistance.

What, then, makes someone a hero? Scientists are still working to identify the specific personality traits and situational factors that lead to heroism. But one thing is clear: Heroism is not simply a matter of being altruistic or compassionate. It’s also a matter of knowing when and how to help—and being able to act effectively in the moment.

A potential key finding from previous study on heroism is that the same circumstances that inflame the malevolent imagination in some individuals, making them villains, can also inspire others to perform brave actions.

This finding has emerged from studies of a wide range of heroic types including firefighters who rush into burning buildings to save lives, protesters who stand up to dictators, and bystanders who intervene to stop hate crimes. It also helps explain why some people are able to find the courage to confront their own demons, overcoming addictions or other challenges.

So what is it that makes someone a hero?

One answer is that heroism arises out of a particular way of seeing the world – what we might call the heroic imagination. This isn’t something that people are born with, but it can be cultivated. And once it takes root, it can have a profound impact on how we live our lives.

The heroic imagination is based on three key ingredients:

1. The belief that we can make a difference in the world

2. The willingness to take risks

3. The capacity to imagine other people’s perspectives

The first ingredient, the belief that we can make a difference, is essential. Without it, we would be stuck in a sense of helplessness and despair. This belief doesn’t require us to have fantasies of grandeur or unrealistic ideals; it simply means seeing ourselves as agents of change who are capable of having an impact on the world around us.

The second ingredient, the willingness to take risks, is also crucial. Heroes are not afraid to put themselves in harm’s way or to stand up for what they believe in, even when it’s unpopular or dangerous.

The third ingredient is the capacity to imagine other people’s perspectives. This doesn’t mean that heroes always agree with others or that they don’t have strong convictions of their own. But it does mean that they are able to see the world from multiple angles and to understand how their actions might affect other people.

When these three ingredients come together, they create a powerful force for good in the world. And that is what makes someone a hero.

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