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heavy mettle Survey probes Swiss perceptions of ‘courage’


Taking the plunge: younger Swiss associated courage with physical daring.


The conception of ‘courage’ varies throughout the Swiss population, with notable differences between young and old, a new study has found. Courage can be an inner resolve or an outer show of force.

What is courage? Is it the leap of faith from a 100-metre bungee jump? The decision to take on the responsibility of raising and providing for a family? The strength to fight back when your opinion is challenged?

According to a new study by research institute Sotomoexternal link, based on a survey of almost 13,000 Swiss people, it is all of these things.

Some 30% of respondents said that courage was linked with physical “daring”, the institute reported on Tuesday, while 28% said courage was leaving one’s comfort zone or facing one’s fears. Another quarter said it was about responsibility and working for others, while over half said courage was needed to “be able to say no”.

Graphic showing courageous acts

But if male and female responses rather tallied, younger and older respondents had different ideas about what constitutes bravery.

For the latter, it seemed that the focus shifted progressively towards the notion of responsibility as they aged, rather than being tied to a concrete or risky action. Younger people, on the other hand, were keener to demonstrate courage in physical demonstrations such as sporting contests.

Overall, Swiss respondents thought of themselves as quite courageous in work, sports, and activities such as driving. They admitted to being more reticent when it comes to fashion, risk-based games, and investments. A quarter of those polled said they would like to be more courageous, especially in relations with others.

Graphic showing biggest regrets


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