The Golden Rule as a Paradigm for Fostering Prosocial Behavior With Virtual Reality

Mel Slater, Domna Banakou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Golden Rule of ethics in its negative form states that you should not do to others what you would not want others to do to you, and in its positive form states that you should do to others as you would want them to do to you. The Golden Rule is an ethical principle, but in virtual reality (VR), it can also be thought of as a paradigm for the promotion of prosocial behavior. This is because in VR, you can directly experience harm that you inflicted or were complicit in inflicting from the embodied perspective of the victim. This use of what we refer to as the Golden Rule Embodiment Paradigm (GREP) relies on participants in VR having the illusion of body ownership over a virtual body. In this article, we introduce virtual embodiment and the consequent illusion of ownership over the virtual body, and describe how this phenomenon has been utilized to influence implicit attitudes. We then introduce the GREP and give examples of studies in which it enhanced helping behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)503-509
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Directions in Psychological Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Golden Rule
  • body ownership
  • implicit bias
  • prosocial behavior
  • virtual reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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