National Geographic Society

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Could You Be a Hero? Facts

Fear of death is a huge adrenaline motivators, so these volunteers have a lot of adrenaline pumping through them.

Fear of death is a huge adrenaline motivators, so these volunteers have a lot of adrenaline pumping through them. (View larger version)

Photograph by NGT

  • An estimated 240 million 911 emergency calls are made each year.

  • Studies have shown that not only does intense fear slow down the perception of time (time dilation) but the more anxious a person is, the slower they react to things around them.

  • In one study where people become involved to help victims of a crime, researchers found the heroes were taller, heavier and more likely to have had a background in helping people than a comparison group who hadn't helped in a crime or emergency for 10 years.

  • "People tend to believe that heroes possess many or all of The Great Eight traits of heroes:smart, strong, caring, reliable, resilient, selfless, charismatic, and inspiring." - Social psychologist and author, Scott Allison.

  • "Heroes are most effective not alone but in a network. It’s through forming a network that people have the resources to bring their heroic impulses to life." – Dr. Phillip Zimbardo

  • Even though adrenaline helps with heroic deeds, if not controlled properly it can make you feel dizzy, out of focus, anxious and out of control...kind of like an anxiety attack.

  • "Most acts of heroism occur in urban areas, where there are more people and more people in need" - Dr. Phillip Zimbardo.

  • "Fight or Flight" - it's a stress reaction that likely evolved in our earliest human ancestors as a way to survive the deadly challenges and dangers they faced every day with the dangers of their time.

  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics analyzed the occupations in the United States with the highest rate of work-related deaths and found fishermen have the greatest chance of dying on the job.

  • "The key to heroism is a concern for other people in need—a concern to defend a moral cause, knowing there is a personal risk, done without expectation of reward." – Dr. Phillip Zimbardo.

  • According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the top super-hero is "Superman."

  • "Research has shown that when people are asked to name their own personal heroes, the first individuals who often come to mind are parents and caretakers." - Social psychologist and author, Scott Allison.

  • In a study of 4,000 adults in the United States, 55% had helped during an emergency, 8% confronted an injustice, 14% had defied unjust authority, and 5% had sacrificed for a stranger.

  • "Males reported performing acts of heroism more than females." - Dr. Phillip Zimbardo.

  • Researchers say that doing something good for others may lengthen your life.