Does a prosocial decision in video games lead to increased prosocial real-life behavior? The impact of reward and reasoning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Research units

  • University of Basel
  • Alphabet Inc.


Recently, researchers have become increasingly interested in the potential of video games to promote real-life prosocial behavior. It has been argued that in-game prosocial acts may transfer to players’ real-life behavior. But so far little is known about how video games affect players’ in-game as well as future real-life prosocial decisions. To address this research gap, we carried out two experiments. Both studies investigated whether voluntarily choosing to help a game character in the same first-person shooter game affected an ensuing real-life prosocial decision (i.e., donation to a charity). The results of the first study (N = 270) indicate that voluntarily deciding to help in-game subsequently led to increased donating behavior. In study 2 (N = 185) we further analyzed the potential moderating effects of game rewards and players’ reasoning for in-game helping. The results of both studies indicate that voluntarily deciding to help in a video game subsequently led to increased donating behavior. Further, results of Study 2 revealed that the absence of a reward for helping in-game affected players’ reasoning for helping and positively influenced prosocial self-concept and donation.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-172
Number of pages10
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Research areas

  • Donation, Game reward, Games, Moral and strategic reasoning, Moral consistency, Prosocial behavior

ID: 35670390