What Makes a Hero?You’re the skydiving instructor. You’re free-falling through the air while strapped to a first-time diver, and your parachute fails. What do you do?

When Shirley Dygert’s parachute didn’t open properly, the fifty-four-year-old novice jumper and her instructor, Dave Hartsock, were falling fast from five thousand feet. Hartsock made a fateful decision, pulling on control toggles to place himself directly beneath Dygert. They hit the ground with a sickening crunch. Hartsock was paralyzed from the neck down, while Dygert was able to walk away despite her injuries. Hartsock had sacrificed himself for someone he’d just met.

What makes a hero? Breakthroughs in biology and neuroscience reveal that the human brain is primed for selflessness. Researchers are applying the lens of science to study heroism for the first time. How do biology, upbringing, and outside influences intersect to produce altruistic and heroic behavior? And how can we encourage this behavior in corporations, classrooms, and individuals?

Contrary to the lore surrounding our cape-clad icons, heroes are not some set-apart species. We all have the power to unlock our own potential heroism, and there are concrete things we can do to build on our selfless capabilities.

Using dozens of fascinating real-life examples, What Makes a Hero? explains how our genes compel us to do good for others; how going through suffering is linked to altruism; and how acting generous can greatly improve your mental health. The book also reveals how we can encourage our most heroic selves to step forward.

Available in September 2013. Pre-order now!

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