The role played by a person in the virtual world of video games affects a person's behaviour in the real world, says a new study.
The report says that virtual environments give "a vehicle for observation, imitation, and modelling". It gives them a chance to act or behave in a certain manner that they cannot do in a real life.
"Our results indicate that just five minutes of role-play in virtual environments as either a hero or villain can easily cause people to reward or punish anonymous strangers," says lead researcher Gunwoo Yoon of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
To understand the relationship between the behaviour in the virtual world and that in everyday life, researchers made 194 students participate in two different studies. The participants were randomly made to play a five-minute game as Superman (a hero), Voldemort (a villain) or circle (a neutral). Later, they were asked to taste and then give either chocolate or chilli sauce to a future participant.
It was found that those who played Superman, poured double the amount of chocolate sauce and in fact more compared to the one who had played Voldemort, who poured more of chilli sauce.
Yoon said, "People are prone to be unaware of the influence of their virtual representations on their behavioural responses." So the good or the evil personality continues to stay with you even when you have moved out of the video game world.
The study was published in the journal Psychological Science.