Where have all the heroes gone? A rational-choice perspective on heroism

Research paper by S. Brock Blomberg, Gregory D. Hess, Yaron Raviv

Indexed on: 18 Jun '09Published on: 18 Jun '09Published in: Public choice


Heroism emerges when individual decisions are coupled with public rewards for heroic actions, making heroism akin to the voluntary provision of a highly specialized public good. In the past 35 years, however, the number of heroes has fallen considerably as reflected by military honors such as the Congressional Medal of Honor. Our model, which seeks to explain heroism in a rational decision-making framework, suggests that an observed decline in heroism can be explained on the basis of optimal individual and social responses, rather than as an arbitrary change in the governmental rewards for heroism.