Riches, Brian R. (2018). What makes a hero? Exploring characteristic profiles of heroes using Q-method. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 58(5), 585-602. (doi: 10.1177/0022167817716305) (Link:

Abstract: Building on research about the characteristics and varieties of actual heroes, the purpose of this project was to investigate the extent to which different types of real heroes have similar and distinct characteristics using Q-method, a person focused method. Awarded heroes sorted 49 psychological characteristics and Q-factor analysis revealed two profiles, or groups, of heroes; “open, loving, and risk-taking heroes,” and “spiritual, socially responsible, and prudent heroes.” These findings are interpreted in light of humanistic psychology, and the implications of these findings on the field of heroism science are discussed. The profiles bring the field of heroism science a deeper and more comprehensive view of the whole heroic person, and suggest directions for using heroic examples to fostering heroism.

Brian R Riches <> is in the Division of Behavioral and Organizational Sciences, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA, USA.

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