Why heroism exists: evolutionary perspectives on extreme helping

Sara Kafashan*, Adam Maxwell Sparks, Amanda Rotella, Pat Barclay

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

6 Citations (Scopus)


On June 17, 2014, thirteen-year-old Robert Pritchard Junior rushed into a burning mobile home to rescue a six-year-old girl from being engulfed by the flames. Almost a year earlier, Christopher Ihle saved an eighty-four-year-old male and his seventy-eight-year-old wife from being struck by a train. A year prior to this incident, Kyle Hardman attempted to save three men and two children from drowning in the Mississippi River. Pritchard Junior, Ihle, and Hardman are recipients of the prestigious Carnegie Medal. These heroes were awarded their medals for voluntarily and knowingly risking their lives to attempt to save others. Why would anyone do such a thing? Why would one incur a cost-such as risk their life-to benefit others? Why would anyone be a hero? From an evolutionary perspective, incurring any such costs appears puzzling at first glance.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Handbook of Heroism and Heroic Leadership
EditorsScott T. Allison, George R. Goethals, Roderick M. Kramer
Place of PublicationNew York, NY
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781315690100
Publication statusPublished - 23 Sept 2016
Externally publishedYes


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