Heroes are born risk-takers and thrill-seekers. They have adventurous personalities.
They are more likely to go mountain-climbing on vacation than lounge around the pool.
Often, their parents modelled compassion and altruism; that's why they say they acted instinctively as if they had no other choice. That reflexive behaviour is run by the brainwashing of childhood.
In 2008, when terrorists attacked a hotel in Bombay many employees risked their lives and died trying to keep the guests safe.
Why? The hotel didn't hire the people with the highest marks. It hired people who showed the most optimism when confronted by adversity and had the most respect for others.
Rohit Deshpandé is an ethics professor at the Harvard. He sez people can be trained to be heroes. But the training has to start early.
Phil Zimbardo, the reciprocity guy from Stanford says 20% of people are heroes.
To program heroism into children, parents and teachers have to brainwash them to believe that they have the power to change a situation.
They also have to teach kids how to build up social influence among their peers because many acts of heroism require people working together.
Zimmy has students go to school with a big spot drawn on their foreheads, so that they experience peer pressure to wipe it off during the day.
"A hero is a positive deviant,” he says. “How do you resist that pressure?”
Why is a hero a deviant? Because she'll do what other people won't. For instance, a whistle-blower, according to Zimbardo, is a hero.
When the Costa Concordia cruise ship went down people fought over life jackets; men pushed their way ahead of children and the elderly; and people tried to launch the lifeboats before they were full.
However, crew member, Manrico Giampedroni, 57 years old, went looking for trapped passengers until he fell in the in the dark and broke his leg.
When he was rescued 36 hours later, his mother told reporters, “If they had told me he was dead, I would have died too.”