Creating mindful heroes: a case study with ninth grade students

Inês Nogueira, Mariana Reis Barbosa*, Luísa Mota Ribeiro, Ioanna Xenophontos, Philip Zimbardo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review



The Heroic Imagination Project (HIP) aims to redefine heroism as a set of habits that anyone can achieve. Research findings on the psychological foundations of negative forms of social influence that can lead to bystander behavior are translated into tools that individuals can use in their daily lives. Habits of wise and effective helping behavior are learned, modeled, and encouraged through the training of the “heroic imagination.” According to the literature, practicing mindfulness can increase empathy, compassion, and prosocial behaviors. There is empirical evidence that compassion can act as a mediator between mindfulness and prosocial helping behaviors toward strangers, suggesting that mindfulness promotes this behavior and thus helps to overcome the bystander effect. With this hypothesis in mind, we created a program that combined mindfulness and HIP sessions. Five participants volunteered to participate in the “Creating Mindful Heroes” 9-week program. Throughout the sessions, they filled in a diary, and at the end of the program, they answered two feedback questionnaires. They were then invited to participate in individual interviews. The participants reported a positive overall perspective regarding the program, mentioning several improvements in their relationships with their family, peers, and others in society. Moreover, participants reported that the program promoted prosocial behaviors and aided them in developing empathy.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1091349
Number of pages9
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 9 May 2023


  • Heroic Imagination Project
  • Bystander effect
  • Empathy
  • Heroism
  • Mindfulness


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