Is courage always a virtue? Suicide, killing, and bad courage

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Is courage always a virtue? Suicide, killing, and bad courage

Is it always good to be courageous? We have proposed elsewhere that the subjective nature of judging the worth of a goal may on occasion lead to bad courage: When an actor voluntarily assumes personal risk for a goal he or she believes is noble but society views as a wrong. Twenty publicly available first person written statements or transcripts made before or during a suicide attempt (n = 12) or a terrorist action or spree killing (n = 8) were coded for the presence or absence of key defining features of courage (Volition, Risk, and Value of the Goal). Volition was found in 75% of the narratives, Risk in 50%, and Value of the Goal in 80%. All three types of statements were present in 40% of narratives, providing evidence that bad courage can and does occur. Implications for courage interventions are discussed.

The Journal of Positive Psychology: Dedicated to furthering research and promoting good practice Volume 10, Issue 5, 2015 383-388

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