Instead of turning away when faced with dangerous and stressful situations, some people act heroically.
The Daily Circuit spoke with two people who think a lot about heroes and heroism: Matt Langdon, of the Hero Construction Company, and Scott Allison, a psychology professor. Highlights of that conversation:
'Two kinds of people out there:'
"What we do know in psychology is that there are two kinds of people out there: The people who will diffuse responsibility and they'll leave it up to others to do the right thing, and then the second group of people are those who feel it is their responsibility, who do take the initiative and the responsibility to do what's right, even if it means possibly inflicting self-harm." (Scott Allison)
Countering the 'bystander effect:'
"A lot of people are familiar with the term, 'the bystander effect.' There are so many factors that hold you still in these situations. It could be thinking that someone else is going to do it or hoping that someone else is going to do it; it could be thinking that you don't know what to do; it could be thinking that you're not the best suited to do something, you might think there's someone who has martial arts training or first aid training, or someone is going to be better off doing this than I am; and there might be fear. A lot of people would ask that question of tackling a gunman: Well, does that person have a family? Are they risking just their life, or are they risking their life and the continued life of their family? ... A study came out last year that showed just by being exposed to the concepts behind the bystander effect, people are less affected by it." (Matt Langdon)
People have an instinct to help in a crisis:
"There is an instinctual drive to help others, and this is very heartwarming for all of us to realize. A common fallacy is out there, that people are only interested in self-preservation, when we know that complete strangers will automatically help others — instinctively, spontaneously, without any thought at all. ... Most of us, I think, have that capacity to help others. ... Every day, in the news, there are stories of people risking life and limb for complete strangers." (Allison)
Last fall, bouncer Eric Wasson stopped a gunman who tried to get into the St. Paul bar he worked at. The St. Paul police honored him this month.
Here is a video of the incident:
Wasson also joined the show and described the experience:
No time for Strategy 2.2:
"As I peeked around the corner, I saw him coming. He just, he was coming. So I had no alternative but to act. ... Sometimes you don't have an opportunity to think. Sometimes you don't have an opportunity to strategize, come up with Strategy 2.2, you know? You just react." (Eric Wasson)
'Shinging example of heroism:'
"[Wasson] is the shining example of heroism. He knew people were going to be hurt unless he took action. He could have been killed ... he put his life and limb on the line to save people, and he's being very humble about it." (Allison)
Earlier this month, 21-year-old Jesse Moore confronted a man robbing a St. Paul CVS and kicked him in the face.
"I was outside looking in, you know, so I took it upon myself to go back in the store because the lady, you understand, she was behind the counter, she just started giving him everything," Moore said.
He says [Simon] Hanson was preoccupied and didn't answer him when he asked what he was doing.
"He was talking to the cash, the drawer, the money drawer," Moore said.
While Hanson was distracted, the 21-year-old said he jumped up on the counter.
"When he was getting ready to leave out the door — that's the picture you got — I kicked him in his face," Moore said. "And when I kicked him he lost his phone."