Does Having Superpowers Makes you a Better Person?

superheroes or supervillains |

All we ever thought what we would do if we had a superpower: invisibility, ability to fly, teleport … Do you would use to do good or evil? In other words, would we be superheroes or supervillains? For, however much we like Joker, the Stanford University conducted a study on this issue and believe that it is simpler than that: it seems to have superpowers makes you a better person .

Obviously, there are many factors which were not taken into account, as if the respondent’s parents were shot outside the theater or was exposed to a radioactive spider, and the study is not the most serious that has made this institution . But the conclusion of this experiment superpowers is, at least, hopeful.

To reach it, the researchers recruited a group of 60 people (30 men and 30 women) in virtual human interaction laboratory (VHIL, for its acronym in English), where they could ‘fly’ through a virtual simulation. But even the super choice was simple.

The idea was that it had to be something that subjects identification subconsciously as a power ‘to do good’ .

“We think of them X-ray vision, but was a little creepy,” says Jeremy Bailenson, an associate professor of communication and director of VHIL. They also considered the possibility that they could breathe underwater, but discarded because “ not look like a superpower ”(do not be surprised, Aquaman ). Finally opted for one of the abilities of Superman.

Participants entered one by one and were transported (virtually, of course) to a devastated city in which, as explained a voice, had disappeared a diabetic child . And they, apart from the ability to fly, had an injection of insulin , so they had to find him before it was too late.

However, in this study there are villains. And here are those who have no superpowers . These people also flew over the city, but did so in a helicopter. Anyway, both the former and the child found after two minutes.

So far so normal. Nobody refused to fulfill its mission (nor could have). But the experiment continued, although they did not know, in the next room. In it, an interviewer made them some questions (irrelevant) and at one point pulled down ‘accidentally’ a container with 15 pens. This is where our heroes .

The false interviewer had orders to wait five seconds before starting to collect them to see if the subject of study helped him in this task. Furthermore, once comenzase to do so, would take one at to allow time for the superhero felt the call destination.

The results were revealing: those with the superpower of flying took just three seconds to offer their help.Meanwhile, those who made the simulation on the helicopter it took an average of six seconds (i.e. a second longer than to the interviewer). But that’s not all, the heroes also struggled more because they took an average of 15% more than pens . And of course, all helped, while 6 of their archenemies did not.

This type of testing is very common to measure empathy and Bailenson opinion in this case could mean the heroic behavior in a virtual environment can become altruistic behavior in the real world . And if this were so, they believe they could use video games to ‘train’ people in this regard. “Clearly, if you design games that are violent, aggressive behavior of people increases. If we can identify the mechanism that promotes empathy, perhaps we could design technology and video games that people enjoy and successfully promote altruistic behavior in the real world ”.

However, still not clear what is the importance of the superpowers in this case.

“We want to have a more precise understanding of why this is happening,” he added. ”What is more important to promote altruistic behavior:being able to fly or be active in choosing to help ? “

To answer this question, repeated the study, but in this case participants can fly the helicopter, while the supermen have to follow a predetermined route.

Therefore, until the findings are clear, perhaps the best thing is to remember that with great power comes great responsibility .


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