Advertisement

Heroic Altruism

Heroic and Moral Behaviour in a Variety of Settings
  • Samuel P. Oliner
Chapter

Abstract

Let me begin with a true story. Stories, we are informed by Sarbin, Vitz,2 and Tulving,3 have an important moral impact because they not only explain an event and arouse emotions about moral and immoral acts, but also inform the reader about what reality is. The narrative story serves as a general metaphor for understanding human conduct. Tulving distinguishes between semantic memory and episodic memory. He maintains that people remember episodes and stories better than abstract ideas or semantic memory.

Keywords

Social Responsibility Semantic Memory Moral Behaviour Moral Community Intrinsic Religiosity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    T.R. Sarbin, ‘The Narrative as a Root Metaphor for Psychology’ in T.R. Sarbin (ed.), Narrative Psychology: The Storied Nature of Human Conduct (New York: Praeger, 1986), pp.3–21.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    P.C. Vitz, A Critical Review of Kohlberg’s Model of Moral Development, Unpublished report for the Department of Education, Washington, D.C. (1985).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    E. Tulving, Elements of Episodic Memory (New York: Oxford University Press, 1983).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Samuel P. Oliner and Pearl M. Oliner, The Altruistic Personality: Rescuers of Jews in Nazi Germany (New York: The Free Press, 1988).Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    By values, I mean an enduring organization of beliefs concerning preferable modes of conduct and/or states of existence along with continued values of importance. Another meaning is a collective conception of what is considered good, desirable and proper, or bad, undesirable and improper, in a culture. Michael Schulman and Eva Mekler, Bringing Up a Moral Child: A New Approach for Teaching Your Child to be Kind, Just and Responsible (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1985) define moral values as consisting of empathy, kindness and responsibility.Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    For a detailed discussion on extensivity, see Oliner and Oliner, The Altruistic Personality, pp.249–260. Also, for an excellent discussion on caring and compassion, see Robert Wuthnow, Acts of Compassion: Caring for Others and Helping Ourselves (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1991).Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    For further discussion of empathic, normocentric and principled motivations, see Oliner and Oliner, The Altruistic Personality, p. 188; J. Reykowski, ‘Dimensions of Development in Moral Values: Two Approaches to the Development of Morality’ in N. Eisenberg, J. Reykowski and E. Staub (eds.), Social and Moral Values: Individual and Societal Perspectives (Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum Associates, 1989).Google Scholar
  8. 9.
    For further discussion on moral community, both religious and secular, see Martin A. Johnson and Phil Mullins, ‘Moral Communities: Religious and Secular’, Journal of Community Psychology 18 (April 1990): 153–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 10.
    L. Yahil, The Rescue of Danish Jewry: Test of a Democracy, tr. M. Gradel (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1969).Google Scholar
  10. 11.
    S. Zuccotti, The Italians and the Holocaust: Persecution, Rescue, and Survival (New York: Basic Books, 1987).Google Scholar
  11. 12.
    A. Ramati, The Assisi Underground: The Priests Who Rescued Jews (New York: Stein & Day, 1978).Google Scholar
  12. 13.
    D. Carpi, ‘The Rescue of Jews in the Italian Zone of Occupied Croatia’ in Y. Gutman and E. Zuroff (eds.), Rescue Attempts During the Holocaust: Proceedings of the Second Yad Vashem International Historical Conference, 8–11 April 1974 (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem,), pp.465–525.Google Scholar
  13. 14.
    F.B. Chary, The Bulgarian Jews and the Final Solution, 1940–1944 (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1972).Google Scholar
  14. 15.
    H. Flender, Rescue in Denmark (New York: Manor Books, 1964).Google Scholar
  15. 16.
    P. Friedman, Their Brothers’ Keepers (New York: Holocaust Library, 1978).Google Scholar
  16. 18.
    E. Fleischner, Remembering for the Future: Jews and Christians during and after the Holocaust, Theme 1, International Scholars Conference, Oxford, 10–13 July 1988 (Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1988), pp.233–247.Google Scholar
  17. 19.
    Ewa Kurek-Lesik, ‘The Role of Polish Nuns in the Rescue of Jews, 1939–1945’, in Pearl M. Oliner, Samuel P. Oliner, Lawrence Baron, Lawrence A. Blum, Dennis L. Krebs and M. Zuzanna Smo-lenska (eds.), Embracing the Other: Philosophical, Psychological, and Historical Perspectives on Altruism (New York: New York University Press, 1992), pp.328–334.Google Scholar
  18. 20.
    Douglas K. Huneke, The Moses of Rovno: The Stirring Story of Fritz Graebe, a German Christian Who Risked His Life to Lead Hundreds of Jews to Safety during the Holocaust (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1986).Google Scholar
  19. 21.
    N. Tec, When Light Pierced the Darkness: Christian Rescue of Jews in Nazi-Occupied Poland (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986).Google Scholar
  20. 22.
    Philip Hallie, Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed (New York: Harper & Row, 1979).Google Scholar
  21. 24.
    P. Sauvage, ‘Ten Things I would Like to Know About Righteous Conduct in Le Chambon and Elsewhere During the Holocaust’, Humboldt Journal of Social Relations 13 (1985–1986): 252–259.Google Scholar
  22. 25.
    S. Zeitoun, ‘The Role of Christian Community in Saving Jewish Children in France during the Second World War’ in Remembering for the Future: The Impact of the Holocaust and Genocide on Jews and Christians, Supplementary Volume (Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1988), pp.505–525.Google Scholar
  23. 26.
    P. London, ‘The Rescuers: Motivational Hypotheses about Christians who Saved Jews from The Nazis’, in J. Macaulay and L. Berkowitz (eds.), Altruism and Helping Behaviour (New York: Academic Press, 1970).Google Scholar
  24. 28.
    See C. Saunders and D. Saunders (eds.), Hospice: The Living Idea (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981).Google Scholar
  25. 29.
    For greater detail, see Samuel P. Oliner and Kathleen Lee, Who Shall Live: The Wilhelm Bachner Story (Chicago: Academy Chicago Publishers, 1996).Google Scholar
  26. 30.
    Jack Werber, Saving Children: Diary of a Buchenwald Survivor and Rescuer (London: Transaction Publishers, 1996).Google Scholar
  27. 31.
    John Percival, For Valour, The Victoria Cross: Courage in Action (London: Thames, Methuen, 1985).Google Scholar
  28. 32.
    Reuven Gal and Richard A. Gabriel, Fighting Armies (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1983).Google Scholar
  29. 35.
    The Self-Esteem Scale we used was developed by M. Rosenberg, Society and the Adolescent Self-Image (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1965).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. see Oliner and Oliner, The Altruistic Personality, p.378. The Social Responsibility Scale was developed by L. Berkowitz and K. Luterman, ‘The Traditionally Socially Responsible Personality’, Public Opinion Quarterly 32 (1968): 169–185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. see Oliner and Oliner, The Altruistic Personality, p.376. The Internal/External Locus of Control Scale was developed by J.B. Rotter, ‘Generalized Expectancies for Internal Versus External Control of Reinforcement’, Psychological Monographs 80 (1966): 1;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. we used an adaptation developed by G. Gurin, P. Gurin and B.M. Morrison, ‘Personal and Ideological Aspects of Internal and External Control’, Social Psychology 41 (1978): 275–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. see Oliner and Oliner, The Altruistic Personality, p.378. The Sensation Seeking scale was developed by M. Zuckerman, ‘Sensation Seeking’, in H. London and J.E. Exner, Jr. (eds.), Dimensions of Personality (New York: Wiley, 1978).Google Scholar
  34. and validated by W.F. Straub, ‘Sensation Seeking Among High and Low-Risk Male Athletes’, Journal of Sport Psychology 4 (1982): 246–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. The Altruistic Personality scale was developed by J. Philippe Rushton, Roland D. Chrisjohn and G. Cynthia Fekken, ‘The Altruistic Personality and the Self-Report Altruism Scale’, Personality and Individual Differences 2 (1981): 293–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Anne Colby and William Damon, Some Do Care: Contemporary Lives of Moral Commitment (New York: The Free Press, 1992).Google Scholar
  37. 38.
    Jane Allyn Piliavin and Peter L. Callero, Giving Blood: The Development of an Altruistic Identity (Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991).Google Scholar
  38. 39.
    M.L. Hoffman, ‘Affective and Cognitive Processes in Moral Internalization: An information processing approach’ in E.T. Higgings, D. Ruble and W. Hartup (eds.), Social Cognition and Social Development: A Socio-cultural Perspective (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1983), pp.236–274.Google Scholar
  39. 42.
    For detailed elaboration about the eight social processes (bonding, empathizing, learning/caring norms, practising care and assuming personal responsibility, diversifying, networking, resolving conflicts, making global connections, see Pearl Oliner and Samuel P. Oliner, Toward A Caring Society: Ideas Into Action (Westport, CT: Praeger Publishing, 1995).Google Scholar
  40. 43.
    See M.A. Johnson and P. Mullins, ‘Moral Community: Religious and Secular’, Journal of Community Psychology 18 (April 1990): 153–166. Their research considers the extent to which community groups (social service clubs, professional organizations, churches, etc.) constitute ‘moral communities’ (relatively coherent social networks which create and support meaningful human relationships by fostering common attitudes, values and practices). It investigates the relationship between belonging to such a group and feelings of ‘mass society’ (alienation, moral fragmentation, disengagement and segmentation). The data indicate that for many individuals community groups constitute moral communities, that such groups differ in the intensity and frequency of moral community feelings, and that the religious congregation is more likely to inspire feelings of moral community than is any other community group. Feelings of moral community were significantly correlated with reduced feelings of ‘mass society’ and increased feelings of self-esteem and of meaning and purpose in life. Feelings of ‘mass society’ were associated with lower self-esteem and a reduced sense of meaning and purpose in life.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 44.
    E. Midlarsky has done research on the connections between helping others and mental and physical wellbeing. There is a strong correlation between helping others and mental health. Her article ‘Helping in Late Life’ was published in Oliner et al., Embracing the Other: Philosophical, Psychological, and Historical Perspectives on Altruism, pp.253–275. Also, see her book, Altruism and the Elderly, (Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 1994). The following studies show the positive benefits for helpers/volunteers: Samuel P. Oliner and Kathleen A. Lee, ‘Conventional Altruism: Hospice Volunteers’ (unpublished, 1991). Also see T. Root, Atomism versus Social Solidarity: A Comparison of Volunteer Workers in Charities and Politics, and non-Volunteers, with reference to Tolerance of Ambiguity, Master’s Thesis in Philosophy, University of East London (unpublished, 1993);Google Scholar
  42. and N. Allen and P. Rushton, ‘Personality Characteristics of Community Mental Health Volunteers: A review’, Journal of Voluntary Action Research 12/1 (Jan–March 1983): pp.36–49.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Samuel P. Oliner

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations