Heroism Science

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On the Bravery and Courage of Heroes: Considering Gender

Heroism Science, Volume 2, 2017

By Elaine L. Kinsella, Timothy D. Ritchie & Eric R. Igou


Heroes are frequently described as both brave and courageous. Each adjective is often used interchangeably in public and academic discourse, despite historical and philosophical differences in their meaning. While research about heroes and heroism is burgeoning, little work has yet to provide a detailed analysis of specific hero features; indeed, there is a need for greater precision in our terminology and conceptual analyses of heroism. In the present article, we focus on two features of heroism, bravery, and courage, and critically parse these terms and the pervasive gender stereotypes that are associated with each. We aim to spark critical discussions about the personal features, motivations, and behaviors associated with heroes and heroism, as well as to outline some directions for future heroism research. We extend our previous work on the central and peripheral features of heroism, and provide directions for considering the role of gender and gender stereotypes in developing future theory and research on heroism.

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1 Comment

  1. As someone who has been finding and telling the stories of heroes for 35 years, I find this research fascinating. When I began the work, one of my advisors told me I’d have to search awfully hard to find women’s stories because “Courage is a man’s issue.” I never asked him for advice again. Over half of the hundreds of heroes’ stories in our database are women. When we get a one-time bravery nomination, we give it to Carnegie, where such actions are honored. We do courage. Our free searchable database is at your disposal. http://giraffeheroes.org/giraffe-heroes


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