Monday, November 12, 2007

Be Heroic!

Philip Zimbardo in his Overview of
"The Lucifer Effect"

In our final chapter 16, the sun shines again, and lights up the dungeons we’ve inhabited for the past 15 chapters Although most people succumb to the power of situational forces, not all do. How do they resist social influence? What kinds of strategies might help the reader to become inoculated against unwanted attempts to get him or her to conform, comply, obey, and yield? I outline a 10-step generic program to build resistance to mind control strategies and tactics. Chapter 16 also presents a thought experiment to involve people in engaging in progressively greater degrees of altruistic deeds that promote civic virtue.

Given that the majority of people in my research and those of my colleagues are impacted by situational forces, it is the minority, the rare person, who resists. I consider them to be heroes. So, I end this long journey with a new understanding of what it means to be heroic. We celebrate heroes and heroism as part of new taxonomy that I have developed, which identifies 12 different types of heroes, with and criteria and exemplars.... After considering "The banality of evil" as everyman and every woman's potential for engaging in evil deeds despite their generally moral upbringing and pro-social life style, like Adolf Eichmann, I introduce the new concept of: "The Banality of Heroism."

So any of us may come to act heroically by being ready to do the good thing, to help others in need when situational demands give us that rare opportunity. I end with that challenge:

When the time comes for you to act the part of the hero,
will you be ready for the casting call?

(As a consequence of writing this book and beginning to focus on the positive side of human nature- the heroic imagination--I have begun new research designed to understand the heroic decision at the time of taking a heroic stand against unjust authority; and also to develop a new web site devoted to celebrating heroes and heroism.)

Learn more about
Zimbardo's HERO PROJECT!