What makes a person risk their lives to save someone from the tracks?

Christine Megrejo Christine Megrejo

What makes a person risk their lives to save someone from the tracks?

We hear the stories pretty often; someone falls on the subway tracks. Sometimes, it ends tragically. Other times, a hero emerges. A recent story broke of a ballet dancer saving a homeless man who was pushed on the tracks; he didn’t think, he just jumped down, grabbed him and placed him on the platform, seconds before a train rolled in.

Just a couple of months before this, a Con Ed worker saved a man who passed out and rolled on tracks. In an interview he said “I made sure that I was safe before I jumped down there, but the thought of ‘Should I do this, should I not do this?’ That didn’t even cross my mind”.

Maybe there’s something to that; not every person on the platform thinks to jump down there. Most won’t even entertain the thought of risking their own lives. But some people don’t even entertain the thought of NOT risking their lives.

There has actually been a study done on how those who have acted heroically think, and they discovered that they don’t overthink at all. Yale scholar David Rand calls it “danger of deliberation”.  Rand has said, “The people that actually act are the people that both have a sort of cooperative impulse and are people who don’t overthink things”.

So maybe the key to subway heroics are people who act impulsively and don’t think too much about a situation. That might be frowned upon when a wild young college kid, but apparently it could lead to saving lives in the face of danger.


Featured image source [Kirk Morales via Unsplash]

Tags: subway
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