Heroes: What They Do and Why We Need Them

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Oxford University Press, USA, 2011 - Psychology - 230 pages
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Abraham Lincoln, Princess Diana, Rick in Casablanca--why do we perceive certain people as heroes? What qualities do we see in them? What must they do to win our admiration? In Heroes, Scott T. Allison and George R. Goethals offer a stimulating tour of the psychology of heroism, shedding light on what heroism and villainy mean to most people and why heroes--both real people and fictional characters--are so vital to our lives. The book discusses a broad range of heroes, including Eleanor Roosevelt, Walt Kowalski in Gran Torino, Senator Ted Kennedy, and explorer Ernest Shackleton, plus villains such as Shakespeare's Iago. The authors highlight the Great Eight traits of heroes (smart, strong, selfless, caring, charismatic, resilient, reliable, and inspiring) and outline the mental models that we have of how people become heroes, from the underdog who defies great odds (David vs. Goliath) to the heroes who redeem themselves or who overcome adversity. Brimming with psychological insight, Heroes provides an illuminating look at heroes--and into our own minds as well.
 

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Contents

Introduction
3
Who They Are and What They Do
21
Our Images of Heroes
53
Back from the Brink
81
Triumph over Adversity
108
Challenges to Heroism
135
How Heroes Shape Us and How We Shape Them
163
Conclusion
193
Notes
209
Index
221
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About the author (2011)


Scott T. Allison is Professor of Psychology at the University of Richmond.

George R. Goethals holds the E. Claiborne Robins Distinguished Professorship in Leadership Studies at the University of Richmond.

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