herald

Friday 31 October 2014

Acting like superhero can make you behave like one

ACTING the part of a superhero can make you start to behave like one in real life, a study has found. Scientists created a virtual reality environment in which volunteers had the ability to fly through the air like Superman or rode as passengers in a helicopter.



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.

hnews@herald.ie

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