Written by Sharon Jayson.
New research would seem to support President Obama’s observation Wednesday night in Tucson that “heroism is here, all around us.” Philip Zimbardo, a Stanford University professor emeritus and colleagues used a nationally-representative sample of 4,000 adults and found that 20% qualified as heroes — they had helped during a dangerous emergency, taken a stand against injustice, or sacrificed for a stranger.
Obama cited Congressional intern Daniel Hernandez, who helped Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords after she was critically wounded, along with doctors and bystanders after an assassination attempt that killed six others and left 13 wounded.
“Heroes are ordinary people,” says Zimbardo, of San Francisco. “You become a hero by doing an extraordinary deed.”
In the study, both blacks and Hispanics were twice as likely as whites to have performed heroic deeds. Zimbardo says they want to do follow-up research on the reasons for the racial/ethnic differences, which he speculates could be attributed to “greater opportunities to respond” or “being discriminated against makes them have more compassion to others in need.”
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