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Instead of spanking a child for using obscene language, Skinner would recom-


A) reasoning with the child about appropriate behavior.


B) using even worse language, so the child can hear how terrible it sounds.


C) reinforcing the child for using desirable language.


D) washing the child’s mouth out with soap.


Closed-Ended Ratings of the Main Hero

As shown in Table 3, those higher in integrity evaluated their main

hero as more principled, authentic, beneficent, spiritual, and (mar- ginally) effective. Integrity was unrelated to how likable, similar to

self, and wise the main hero was perceived to be. These patterns are consistent with those found on the spontaneous descriptions and with prior research on personal qualities associated with integrity

(Schlenker, 2007). The qualities that those who score higher in integrity seem to possess are also admired in their heroes.

Authenticity, or being true to self, is often regarded as a facet of integrity (Peterson & Seligman, 2004). Although being true to self

does not have identical implications as being committed to ethical principles (e.g., a serial killer acts consistently with personal

Table 2 Study 1: Integrity and the Percentage of Respondents Who Used Each

Category to Describe Their Heroes

Attribute X2 (150) p5

Percentage Using Category

Low Integrity High Integrity

Principled 6.42 .01 11.3% 27.9%

Honest 9.66 .002 22.5% 46.8%

Spiritual 6.03 .014 5.6% 19.0%

Beneficent 14.86 .0001 71.8% 94.9%

Determined 0.01 .91 66.2% 67.1%

Intellectually skilled 1.69 .19 45.1% 55.7%

Socially skilled 0.05 .83 22.5% 24.1%

Powerful 0.89 .85 73.2% 79.8%

Attitudinally positive 2.59 .11 12.7% 22.8%

Forgiving 0.23 .63 5.6% 7.6%

Materialistically successful 0.00 .96 9.9% 10.1%

Impartial 0.33 .57 4.2% 3.3%

Other 0.41 .52 19.7% 24.1%

Note: Integrity scores were dichotomized (median splits) to form low and high

integrity groups.

What Makes a Hero? 335

preferences but quite immorally), these constructs are conceptually and empirically related (Schlenker, 2007). As such, closed-ended

items were selected to assess both the commitment to principles and authenticity. These groupings were modestly correlated (r5 .25, p5 .002) and positively related to scores on the Integrity Scale. Un- fortunately, comparable groupings could not be distinguished in the spontaneous listings (qualities like ‘‘fought for his beliefs,’’ ‘‘stands

up for what she believes,’’ and ‘‘strong convictions’’ can reflect both principled commitment and authenticity). When these concepts are

distinguished, as in the closed-ended items, both the adherence to principles and authenticity are directly related to integrity scores.

Further, authenticity, perhaps because it centers on the self, has weaker implications for concerns about others than does principled

commitment. Ratings of beneficence were highly correlated with the commitment to principles (r5 .62, po.0001) but modestly correlated with authenticity (r5 .25, p5 .002); these correlations differ in mag- nitude (po.05). The pattern suggests that principled commitment subjectively implies concerns for others, at least in the United States.


On Rokeach’s Value Scale (1973), those who scored higher in

integrity ranked higher (closer to 1) the instrumental values honest, F (1, 138)5 5.30, p5 .02, b5 � .19, and helpful, F (1, 138)5 8.72,

Table 3 Study 1: Evaluations of Heroes on the Closed-Ended Items


Integrity Main Effects

F (1, 146) p5 b

Principled 5.26 .02 .19

Authentic 7.31 .008 .23

Beneficent 4.21 .04 .17

Effective 3.16 .08 .15

Likable o1 .40 � .09 Spiritual 4.08 .05 .17

Intelligent o1 .48 .06 Similar to oneself o1 .52 � .06

336 Schlenker, Weigold, & Schlenker

p5 .004, b5 � .25, and the terminal value salvation, F (1, 138)5 4.57, p5 .03, b5 � .19. Conversely, those higher in integrity ranked lower (closer to 18) the instrumental values self-controlled,

F (1, 137)5 12.22, p5 .006, b5 .29, and polite, F (1, 137)5 7.97, p5 .006, b5 .23, and the terminal values a comfortable life, F (1, 137)5 9.49, p5 .003, b5 .25, and self-respect (self-esteem), F (1, 137)5 5.27, p5 .02, b5 .20. High integrity themes of honesty, helpfulness, genuine feelings for others, and salvation run consis- tently through the data. Further, their lower ranking of a comfort-

able life and self-esteem may reflect a disdain those with higher integrity have for materialism and self-absorption and/or a prefer- ence for these qualities in people who are more expedient. The re-

lationships thus form converging patterns.

Social Desirability

Consistent with prior findings (Schlenker, 2007), integrity and social desirability showed only a small, insignificant relationship (r5 .14, p5 .08). Analyses that included social desirability revealed only one main effect (i.e., those higher in social desirability rated their heroes

as more likeable on the closed-ended scales, p5 .03) and no inter- actions that qualified any of the effects reported.

It is reasonable to ask why the relationship between integrity scores and social desirability is not larger. Being principled is an in-

herently desirable quality, yet so is being flexible, adapting to cir- cumstances, and taking care of oneself. During scale development, attempts were made to reduce social desirability bias by selecting

items that presented expediency in a more palatable light (e.g., ‘‘Ly- ing is sometimes necessary to accomplish important, worthwhile

goals’’) and pairing principled conduct with less desirable concepts (e.g., ‘‘Being inflexible and refusing to compromise are good if it

means standing up for what is right’’). Although social desirability bias probably can never be eliminated in self-report measures dealing

with principles and integrity, the small amount of shared variance (usually less than 3%) suggests this attempt was at least somewhat


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