Using their alter egos, both groups were then assigned one of two tasks -- either helping to find a missing diabetic child, or exploring a virtual city.
Regardless of their task, those with Superman powers tended to be more helpful after returning to the "real" world. Participants wore virtual reality headsets to immerse them in a computer-generated city which was evacuated after an earthquake warning.
The US researchers, led by Dr Robin Rosenberg, from Stanford University, wrote in the online journal Public Library of Science ONE: "Flying participants were quicker to help than helicopter participants."
One possible explanation was that playing the role of Superman in virtual reality led players to "think" like superheroes, making them keen to help someone in difficulty, the scientists said.