Definitions

For the purpose of our study, we prefer a definition that relies on objective, measurable criteria. We characterize a behavior as altruistic when:

  1. it is directed towards helping another;
  2. it involves a high risk or sacrifice to the actor;
  3. it is accomplished by no external reward;
  4. it is voluntary.

Heroic altruism involves greater risk to the helper, whereas conventional altruism is not life-threatening to the helper.

Heroic Continuum Conventional

Christian Rescuers

  • Courage
  • Empathy
  • Learned caring norms
  • Social responsibility
  • Acquired a moral code of justice
  • Self-esteem
  • Self-efficacy
  • Religious factors
  • Agape
  • Attachment (bonding)
  • Inclusiveness
  • Courage

Examples

  • Perlasca
  • Trocme'
  • Wallenberg
  • Schindler

Jewish Rescuers

  • Courage
  • Empathy
  • Compassion
  • Defiance
  • Moral-Outrage
  • Self-efficacy
  • Justice
  • Self-esteem
  • Normative Group Affiliation
  • Agape

Examples

  • Hannah Senesz
  • Bachner
  • Bielski Bros.
  • Luba Gercak
  • Werber

Military Heroes

  • Courage
  • Moral Code
  • Efficacy
  • Social Responsibility
  • Honor
  • Patriotism
  • Virtue
  • Valour
  • Normative - Group Affiliation

Examples

  • Victoria Cross Winners
  • Congresstional Medal of Honor Winners

Carnegie Heroes

  • Courage
  • Moral Code
  • Efficacy
  • Religious factors
  • Internalized caring norms
  • Compassion
  • Social Responsibility
  • Agape

Examples

  • Misty Waters
  • Wywadis
  • 9391 more (as of 2010)

Moral Examplars

  • Compassion
  • Moral code
  • Internalized norms of caring
  • Empathy
  • Social Responsibility
  • Religious factors
  • Efficacy
  • Agape

Examples

  • Gandhi
  • Mandela
  • Wiesel
  • Mother Teresa
  • and other less famous people

Hospice Volunteers

Examples

  • Compassion
  • Need for affiliation
  • Reciprocal helping
  • Attachment to others
  • Internalized norms of caring
  • Empathy
  • MacDonald (Humboldt County)
  • Hazeltine (Bay Area)
  • Stepansky (Boston Area)