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Heroes: What They Do & Why We Need Them
  • Scott T. Allison, University of Richmond
  • George R. Goethals, University of Richmond
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.
Publication Date
Oxford University Press
  • heroes,
  • psychology
Jepson School of Leadership Studies

Listen to Podcasts@Boatwright and hear Dr. Al Goethals and Dr. Scott Allison discuss Heroes: What They Do & Why We Need Them.

Read the introduction to the book by linking to the Read More button above.

Citation Information

Allison, Scott T., and George R. Goethals. Heroes: What They Do and Why We Need Them. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.