3 days popular7 days popular1 month popular3 months popular

Using Superpowers In Virtual Reality Games Makes Players More Likely To Be Helpful In Real-Life

Having virtual super-powers in a game may incite people to better behavior in the real world, according to research published in the open access journal PLOS ONE by and colleagues from Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab.

Participants in this study were placed in a virtual environment and either given the of flight or rode as in a . They were then assigned one of two tasks: help find a missing diabetic child or tour a virtual city. The researchers explain that regardless of which task they performed, “Participants who were given the to fly like Superman in were more helpful afterward, out of , compared to participants who were passengers in a helicopter in .”

The researchers suggest that embodying a superpower in virtual reality may prime players to ‘think like superheroes’ and thus facilitate subsequent helpful behavior in the real world. Alternately, the authors also suggest that participants who could fly in the game may have felt like more active participants than those who passively sat in the helicopter while performing tasks, and this more active involvement may have induced their subsequent behavior.


Citation: Rosenberg RS, Baughman SL, Bailenson JN (2013) Virtual Superheroes: Using in Virtual Reality to Encourage Prosocial Behavior. PLoS ONE 8(1): e55003. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055003
Financial Disclosure: The authors have no support or funding to report.
Competing Interest Statement: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
LINK TO THE SCIENTIFIC ARTICLE: http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0055003
Public Library of Science