Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Donald Morgenson

Advisor Role

Thesis Committee Member

Second Advisor

Vernon Schaefer

Advisor Role

Thesis Committee Member

Third Advisor

Josephine Naidoo

Advisor Role

Thesis Committee Member


The present paper was an exploratory attempt at examining changing definitional conceptions of courage. Traditional conceptions were found to abound in popular definitions and confusion with respect to both the meaning and origin of courage. Unconscious conformity to societal norms, symbolic attachment to national roles, a learning theory analogue and the broad conception of S-R (stimulus-response) behaviour were examined as possible explanatory frameworks. An analysis of courage and survival clarified the relationship between courage and hope. An interdependent rather than independent relationship between the two concepts was postulated. The S-O-R (stimulus-organism-response) model was employed as a general explanatory framework for contemporary conceptions of courage. The moral courage of traditional models and the self-reliance found in survival situations were combined into a more comprehensive “personal involvement.” Contemporary courage was defined further within the framework of a new culture and a freely chosen active adherence to its changing values, attitudes and belief systems. Cognitive and interactive risk taking hypotheses, attitude change studies and social political activism studies provided indirect empirical support for the postulated definitional components of contemporary courage.

Convocation Year


Included in

Psychology Commons