Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Department of Psychology
Eric D Wesselmann
The Hero Functions Framework states that heroes play three functions in society: enhancing others, protecting those around them, and modeling morals for others (Kinsella et al., 2015b). This study evaluated the experimental validity of the moral modeling function of heroes. Experiencing heroes may lead a change in values to better align with the values of that heroes model. Moral elevation, the feeling of awe and inspiration one feels when witnessing a morally beautiful act (Aquino et al., 2011), may also mediate the relation between heroes and a change in one’s values. Therefore, it was hypothesized that participants who reflected on heroes would report higher scores on measures of moral elevation and personal values than those who reflected on average college students. Two hundred and forty undergraduates reflected on either heroes or average college students and then completed measures of moral elevation and values. The results showed that reflecting on heroes had a significant effect on moral elevation but had no direct effect on any of the values, Wilks’ Λ = .92, F (5, 234) = 4.0, p = .002. Mediation analyses showed that reflected on heroes had an indirect effect on benevolence through moral elevation (ß = .11, 95% CI = [.03, .19]). These findings suggest that reflecting on heroes causes a higher prioritization of benevolence through moral elevation.
Atkinson, Christopher David, "Moral Modeling: How Heroes Impact Values" (2021). Theses and Dissertations. 1350.