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Ep. 35 | Heroic Imagination: Inspiring Ordinary People to be Everyday Heroes | with Dr. Philip Zimbardo

the daily helping podcast Jan 28, 2018

Today our expert guest is Dr. Philip Zimbardo, Founder of the Heroic Imagination Project, a nonprofit organization that translates the extensive findings of social psychology and related fields into meaningful insights and tools that individuals can use in their everyday lives to transform negative situations and create positive change.


Dr. Zimbardo spent much of his academic life at Stanford studying how good people turn evil, including research on deindividualization that was featured in the Stanford Prison Experiment.


He presented this research in 2007 at a TED Conference in a talk titled “The Psychology of Evil,” offering that we can make the majority of people do bad things using basic social psychological principles – but then he flipped the script and asked a different question:


How can ordinary people be inspired and trained to be ordinary heroes?


In the Heroic Imagination Program, they have created a core program of modules called “Understanding Human Nature.”


These modules engage people through provocative videos that promote awareness and understanding of issues such as the Bystander Effect, a phenomenon in which individuals are less likely to offer help to a victim when other people are around.


Then, instead of a teacher lecturing, participants are broken up into groups (called Hero Squads) to share their ideas and do hands-on activities.


These modules include Combatting the Bystander Effect; Developing a Growth Mindset; and, soon, Combating Stereotype, Prejudice, and Discrimination. Each of the modules builds upon the others to inspire and train ordinary heroes, with the hope that they can then inspire, train, and improve their communities.


We all have the opportunity to outgrow our limiting mindsets, join the human social community, become everyday superheroes, and save the world. Go to to start today.


The Biggest Helping: Today’s Most Important Takeaway


“Make someone else feel special. Make someone else you meet or know smile. Move out of your comfort zone of focusing on yourself in an egocentric way and move into the world of promoting sociocentrism.


“Those are the biggest things, and people don’t do that only because it feels awkward… but once you do it, you change the world.”


Thank you for joining us on The Daily Helping with Dr. Shuster. Subscribe to the show on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play to download more food for the brain, knowledge from the experts, and tools to win at life.





There is incredible potential that lies within each and every one of us to create positive change in our lives (and the lives of others) while achieving our dreams.

This is the Power of You!