Heroism is all around us. The media and popular culture are constantly generating stories of heroism and villainy, in fictional or real contexts. Whether we realise it or not, we are all engaged with the heroic in some shape or form – by enduring what seem to be impossible conditions and prevailing, being inspired by other peoples’ brave actions, making decisions to stand up to something we see as unjust no matter the cost to us, or at the opposite end, refusing what we know deep down is the right thing to do.
The 21st century has marked a shift in research trends across a number of disciplines, especially due to the increasing relevance of technologies in our daily lives and the demand for more complex and creative ways of thinking about our world. In particular, the focus in the sciences, psychology and the social sciences which have traditionally concentrated on the study of disease, evil, maladaptive and irrational behaviours, is now moving towards understanding positive behaviours and promoting personal and collective well-being. This has signalled an unprecedented rise in the study of such fields as resilience, flow, spirituality, sustainability, leadership, faith and many more. Heroism and heroic individuals represent the pinnacle of humanity – what we can become, do and experience. But, as we are discovering, decoding the heroic process, its antecedents and impacts is far from simple. Heroism science seeks to uncover the many complex layers of this state of human consciousness which has fascinated us since the dawn of humankind, as we look to the future in both awe and fear of what we might achieve.
We hope you enjoy the journey with us as we travel down the road to the exciting discoveries that lie ahead, and are inspired in the process to dare to think beyond the ordinary, talk about issues you have not done so before, and embark on your own heroic path, whatever that may be.
Olivia Efthimiou, Heroism science website creator, 26 March 2015
Heroism in the media: