A study conducted by University of Limerick researchers highlights the importance of heroism in everyday life. The research team at the Department of Psychology, UL designed a series of experimental studies to reveal the most defining features of heroism. Over 189 respondents from 25 countries were surveyed about what they believed to be the most important features and functions of heroes. 66% reported to have at least 1 hero and identified a range of heroic characteristics including; bravery, moral integrity, honesty, self-sacrifice, protecting others and conviction.
Lead researcher, Elaine Kinsella, explains; “When the research participants were asked to define heroic characteristics, they emphasized the need for evidence of self-sacrifice and moral integrity.”
Ms Kinsella added; “The term hero is universal and understood to provide important physical, psychological, and social benefits to people. Our research found that the definition of what it means to be a hero has changed over time. Traditional descriptions referred to heroes in masculine terms and often described those who risk their own lives to help others. Our research found that heroes are described as having positive and likeable attributes such as honesty, selflessness, inspiration and altruism. Although many types of heroes exist the most frequently mentioned hero is one’s mother. As well as the more traditional physical-risk hero, our research shows that the term hero refers to people who demonstrate courage and conviction in pursuit of ideas that serve the greater good.”
A related survey* of university students undertaken by the same research team found that 88% believed that that heroes are still relevant today and 82% believe they are more important during societal crises.
This research was conducted by Dr Eric Igou, Dr Timothy Ritchie and Elaine Kinsella, Department of Psychology, University of Limerick.
*2012 survey of 212 university students undertaken by Kinsella, Ritchie & Igou, University of Limerick