Image of Future Self Increases Saving: Study

Study shows people save more when they see themselves as old, gray

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Michelle Del Rosario
    Hal Ersner-Hershfield demonstrates how the computer generates the future self avatar.

    As a 20-year-old, imagine having to see a picture of yourself at the age of 70 every time you accessed your bank account.  Think that might help curb your spending and prompt you to save more for your old-geezer self?

    A recent study conducted at Stanford University investigated just that and concluded that it does indeed promote younger people to start putting money aside for retirement.

    "People are retiring at the same time as they always did, which leaves them with this huge chunk of time at the end of their lives that they are not financially prepared to handle," said Hal Ersner-Hershfield, a visiting assistant professor at Northwestern Professor.

    Ersner-Hershfield worked with the team at Standford on the study, which involved 250 Stanford University undergrad students. 

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    It's often said that nothing is free, but saving for college can be if you know where to look.

    Each student looked into a mirror that would reflect an actual image of themselves or a computer-generated aged version of themselves at the age of 70.  Afterward, students answered a questionnaire with a few of the questions asking how much money they would put away towards their saving. 

    The students who saw the gray and wrinkly versions of themselves allocated twice as much as those who did not.

    It's good news because people are starting to live much longer but still retire around 60.  According to Ersner-Hershfield, people spend almost a third of their lives in retirement.

    These pictures could be a golden opportunity to help younger generations save for those golden years in the future.

    Stanford.edu: Virtual Human Interaction Lab