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Heroism and Risk of Harm

Author(s): Douglas M. Stenstrom | Mathew Curtis

Journal: Psychology
ISSN 2152-7180

Volume: 03;
Issue: 12;
Start page: 1085;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: Risk | Implicit Theories | Positive Traits | Moral Character

Although the positive traits and qualities that compose heroism such as courage, bravery and empathy have received research support, little experimental research has directly investigated the perception of heroic acts. The primary purpose of the current research was to address this gap in the literature by investigating a basic question about a central defining feature of heroism, namely the risk of potential harm. A related objective was investigating how implicit theories of personality and moral character influence perceptions of heroism, particularly as it relates to risk of harm. Results revealed how incrementally escalating the level of risk to the actor can transform an otherwise prosocial behavior into heroism through separating altruism from heroism. Implicit theories impacted perceptions of heroism consistent with the theorizing behind entity/incremental orientations, and produced an interactive effect with the situational manipulation through information about the particular level of risk differentially affecting entity and incremental belief systems.
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