30 June 2015


The Lucifer Effect by Zimbardo, 2007, Excerpts

Heroism can be defined as having four key features:
·       it must be engaged in voluntarily
·       it must involve a risk or potential sacrifice, such as the threat of death, immediate threat of physical integrity, a long-term threat to health, or the potential for serious degradation of one’s quality of life
·       it must be conducted in service to one or more other people or the community as a whole
·       it must be without secondary, extrinsic gain anticipated at the time of the act.

The physical risk demanded of civilians who act heroically differs from a soldier’s or first responder’s heroic acts, because professionals are bound by duty and a code of conduct and because they are trained but the style of engagement and potential sacrifice the action demands is very similar.

Other forms of personal risk that qualify as heroic acts include risks to one’s career, the possibility of imprisonment, of the loss of status. For example, heroism might include persistent behavior in the face of known long-term threats to health or serious financial consequences; to the loss of social or economic status; or to ostracism. Sacrifice entails costs that are not time-limited. Typically, civil heroes have the opportunity to carefully review their actions and to weigh the consequences of their decisions, including arrest, imprisonment, torture, and risk to family members, and even assassination. This broadens the definition of heroism considerably. Some forms of apparent heroism might not be heroic but pseudo-heroic.

No comments: