The Washington Post:
We grow up being taught to look before we leap and think before we act, especially in dangerous situations. In its booklet on dealing with “active shooters,” the Department of Homeland Security lists confrontation as the “last resort,” after, among other things, taking note of the nearest exits and locking yourself in an office. Police tell us not to confront someone “armed and dangerous.” And our spouses and other loved ones tell us, “don’t be a hero.”
If you stop to contemplate whether to act when the danger actually confronts you, you probably won’t, the study suggests.
And the answer to the the question “what were they thinking when they risked their lives?” is that they weren’t thinking, at least not very much. They just did it. If you think about it too much, you won’t.
Yale scholar David Rand called it the “danger of deliberation” in an interview with The Washington Post, and it appears to be the biggest deterrent to what he calls “extreme altruism.”
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