Date of Award

Fall 2022

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Psychology, PhD


School of Social Science, Politics, and Evaluation

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Kendall Cotton-Bronk

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Jason Siegel

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Jeanne Nakamura

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Timothy Ritchie

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2022 Brian R Riches


development, hero, heroism, scale, validation

Subject Categories



Heroism – the phenomenon of individuals putting themselves at risk for the benefit of others – is a topic of increasing empirical interest (Franco et al., 2017). Applied heroism training programs have emerged with the goal of fostering heroism (Heiner, 2018). Psychologists have examined the characteristics of heroes (e.g., Midlarsky et al., 2005) and the power of the situation to drive ordinary people to heroic action (Franco et al., 2017). These studies have raised important questions, such as how can heroism be predicted? Does heroism training work? And how do heroes develop? Current methods of studying heroism, including exemplar studies, can only be performed after a person has been recognized for a heroic act. Due to these and other limitations of current heroism measures, the field of heroism science needs a measure that can predict which individuals are likely to act heroically, gather large and diverse samples of potential heroes, and measure changes over time in an individual’s intention to act heroically. To address these needs in the field, in a series of five studies, I created and assessed the validity of a scale, called the Intended Heroic Behavior Scale (IHBS), which collects valid data on the intention to behave heroically. In Study 1, experts in the field rated the content of potential scale items and recommended changes and additions to the scale. In Study 2, laypeople assessed the face and content validity of the items by rating how realistic each scenario was, how clear the benefit to others was, and how clear the risk was to the hero. In Study 3, I performed item reduction and exploratory factor analysis to uncover the smallest number of items that would account for the most variance, as well as measuring correlations showing evidence of discriminant and convergent validity. In Study 4, I performed confirmatory factor analysis to confirm the factor structure uncovered in Study 3. This study revealed the items were measuring a general factor of intended heroism and two independent factors of social and civil heroism. Study 4 also demonstrated the scale’s convergent and discriminant validity. Finally, in Study 5, I tested the final 8-item version of the IHBS with a known group of heroes and compared their scores to nonheroes. The IHBS appears to generate valid data on heroism and can distinguish between heroes and nonheroes. The IHBS can be used to predict heroism, which will enable the field of heroism science to assess the effectiveness of hero training programs and answer important empirical questions.



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