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How do we perceive heroes?

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Joan Harvey, Dr George Erdos


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Although there are several interpretations of a hero, heroism is generally viewed in terms of distinguished bravery or courage. However, little has been done to investigate how people perceive heroic acts and the hero's reasons for them. There would appear to be a risky response prompted by a relatively sudden emotional trigger, the individual also being likely to act without processing cognitive information about risk and without necessarily considering the costs and benefits associated with the behaviour. Using short scenarios, 155 subjects assessed the mental processes involved at the critical points of perceived acts of heroism. The findings suggest that perceived heroism relates to intention and outcome rather than the risk involved. The findings are discussed in terms of attribution and risk perception. A model is proposed which incorporates three levels of judgement of emotion and affect, risk awareness and perceived control.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Harvey J, Erdos G, Turnbull L

Editor(s): T Aven and JE Vinnem

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: Risk, Reliability and Societal Safety

Year: 2007

Volume: 2

Pages: 1607-1614

Print publication date: 25/06/2007

Publisher: Taylor & Francis

Place Published: London

Notes: Proceedings of the European Safety and Reliability Conference: Stavanger, Norway. 25-27 June 2007.

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9780415447867