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The Source: On Second Thought, Maybe I Won't Save Your Life


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Risking your life to save a stranger doesn't make sense, evolutionarily. Humans are said to be hard coded to not stick their necks out for those outside their biological line. But year after year people keep saving perfect strangers. Many aren't law enforcement or public safety. Each year the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission honors some civilian each year for risking their life for a stranger.

But why do these hero's do it? Go against their biological disposition? 

A new study took a look at the thinking behind these high-risk decisions. It turned out oftentimes the split second decision to risk your life for another is split-second, and most take no time to think about it. Given more time, many would not follow through with the act. 

We talked with the author of the study to find out more.


  • David Rand, director of the Human Collaboration Laboratory at Yale University

Paul Flahive can be reached at Paul@tpr.org and on Twitter at @paulflahive