Playing as a hero or villain in a video game can affect how you act in the real world, according to a new study from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Researchers asked 194 participants to complete two seemingly unrelated tasks. First, they were randomly assigned to play a videogame as Superman (a hero), Voldemort (a villain), or a circle (neutral). After playing for 5 minutes, participants were then asked to pour a portion of either chocolate or a spicy chili sauce for a future participant, and told they would consume the entire thing. Those who played the videogame as Voldemort poured nearly twice as much chili sauce than chocolate, and those who played
"In virtual environments, people can freely choose avatars that allow them to opt into or opt out of a certain entity, group, or situation," lead researcher Gunwoo Yoon was quoted as saying. "Consumers and practitioners should remember that powerful imitative effects can occur when people put on virtual masks."