What Makes a Hero?: The Surprising Science of Selflessness

What Makes a Hero?: The Surprising Science of Selflessness

by Elizabeth Svoboda


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Recent breakthroughs in biology and neuroscience reveal that the human brain is primed for selflessness. But how do biology, upbringing, and outside influences intersect to produce altruistic and heroic behavior? And how can we encourage selflessness in corporations, classrooms, and individuals? 

Using dozens of fascinating real-life examples, science journalist Elizabeth Svoboda explains how our genes compel us to do good for others, how going through suffering is linked to altruism, and how acting generously can greatly improve our mental health.

Svoboda argues that it’s a common misconception that heroes are innately destined to be that way. In fact, anyone can be a hero if they’re committed to developing their heroic potential.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781591845287
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/29/2013
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 6.36(w) x 9.14(h) x 0.97(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Elizabeth Svoboda has contributed to Fast Company, Popular Science, Psychology TodayDiscover, Salon, and The New York Times, among others. In 2008, she received the Evert Clark/Seth Payne Award. She lives in San Jose.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Can Anyone Become A Hero? 1

Part I Theory

Chapter 1 In The Genes? 13

Chapter 2 The Economics of Unselfishness 31

Chapter 3 Mental Blocks Against Heroism 45

Chapter 4 Inner Focus and Compassionate Action 59

Chapter 5 Suffering and Heroism 75

Chapter 6 Helping, Health, and Happiness 89

Chapter 7 The Scientific Search for Altruism 105

Part II Practice

Chapter 8 Heroes in Training 125

Chapter 9 Corporate Heroes 143

Chapter 10 Real-Life Superheroes 159

Chapter 11 Taking the Hero Challenge 173

Chapter 12 Cultivating a Heroic Life 191

Acknowledgments 207

Notes 209

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“A satisfying investigation of the mechanics of heroism.”
Kirkus Reviews

“The world would be a better place if everyone read Elizabeth Svoboda’s fun, fascinating, and deeply researched book.”
Joshua Foer, author of Moonwalking with Einstein

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