An essential tension can be found between researchers interested in ecological validity and those concerned with maintaining experimental control. Research in the human neurosciences often involves the use of simple and static stimuli lacking many of the potentially important aspects of real world activities and interactions. While this research is valuable, there is a growing interest in the human neurosciences to use cues about target states in the real world via multimodal scenarios that involve visual, semantic, and prosodic information. These scenarios should include dynamic stimuli presented concurrently or serially in a manner that allows researchers to assess the integrative processes carried out by perceivers over time. Furthermore, there is growing interest in contextually embedded stimuli that can constrain participant interpretations of cues about a target’s internal states. Virtual reality environments proffer assessment paradigms that combine the experimental control of laboratory measures with emotionally engaging background narratives to enhance affective experience and social interactions. The present review highlights the potential of virtual reality environments for enhanced ecological validity in the clinical, affective, and social neurosciences.