Our Lessons

We have created a core program of HIP Hero Training Programs. Each module contributes to the training of everyday heroes in a profound and unique way. We differ from other approaches to social change in two major ways.

First, we focus on the dynamics of everyday social situations, rather than on the personalities and character traits of individuals, as important as they are.

Second, we don’t stigmatize our biases and automatic reactions to difficult situations. Rather, we see our tendencies to “watch and wait,” to “go along to get along.” and to make hasty judgments about others as normal and human.  In doing so, we reduce people’s defensiveness to their own instances of these normal behaviors, thus enabling them to more easily break free of them.

All of our programs combine rich academic content with engaging videos and hands-on activities that young people find surprisingly playful and that our clients (schools, colleges, and youth organizations)—can tailor with us to fit their unique needs.



Developing a Growth Mindset

Whether you wish for your students to explore their potential and embrace failure, your teachers to understand the exact science required to learn a new skill, or for your employees to be more confident, fulfilled, and productive, this lesson can help. Research by world-renowned psychologist, Dr. Carol Dweck shows that our mindsets - the set of beliefs we have about whether our abilities can be grown or changed - profoundly impact the way we work, play, explore, and live. Trainees will learn why limiting beliefs occur, how they can be changed, and what meaningful strategies they can use to take their skills to the next level. This discussion is held in the context of improving the world, increasing trainees' beliefs that their daily efforts to navigate challenges and failures and seek triumphs are valid and that doing these things can help make the world a better place.


Combatting the Bystander Effect

The opposite of a hero is not a villain - it is a ‘bystander’ - an individual who does nothing during adverse situations. Not only does this allow for bad things to happen, bystanders often actually exacerbate the danger of these situations. Since the majority of people in the world are not
“victims” or “bullies”, but are people who mind their own business and do nothing, we focus on mobilizing this majority for good. We do this by teaching trainees how automatic human tendencies and social influence can shape our decisions causing us to act in ways that can be harmful to ourselves and others. Trainees learn how bystander behavior has occurred at the macro and micro level throughout history as well as how to identify bystander behavior in various scenarios and what can be done to prevent it in oneself and in others. This discussion also examines how friends can help each other become upstanders through reassurance and holding courageous conversations.


Bias reduction.

Implicit and explicit biases affect us negatively everyday, no matter what race, gender, or culture with whom one identifies. SPD behavior dates back to the dawn of time, when our ability to make snap judgments and act on them was crucial to our very survival. In the modern age, this cognitive function has created rampant social problems, resulting in deeply damaging “us and them” mentalities that have been the cause of genocide, war, and psychologically-scarring divides that transcend generations. Due to the widespread and time-extended nature of this problem, as well as the theoretical simplicity with which it can be abated, we focus on its eradication as a core part of hero training. Self-affirming activities lead groups kindly into sensitive discussions. Although prominent social issues are touched on, facilitators keep the conversation “local” - discussing how SPD affects us on individual levels, and how it affects our family, friends, and neighbors. Trainees understand how to spot their own implicit bias and what strategies they can use to change it as well as how they can reassure and support friends and coworkers and exclude SPD behavior from the social norm. 

Watch Dr. Zimbardo's introduction to HIP at TED University.


Interested in bringing these lessons to your population?