Your (Virtual) Future Self Wants You To Save Up

NPR:

A retirement crisis is looming. As people live longer, one study finds that half of all households are at risk of coming up short on retirement money. And while many working households may feel they simply don’t have enough to spare for retirement, experts say some of the biggest barriers to saving up are psychological.

Now, new research has found a way around that barrier: providing a virtual glimpse into the future that could help motivate young people to save more for retirement.

“When you make a decision now about yourself in the future, that distant self almost feels like a stranger,” says Hal Hershfield of New York University’s Stern School of Business.

In fact, when we think about ourselves in the future we actually use the same part of our brain that we use when we think about a stranger. Hershfield and a group of researchers wanted to help young people vividly imagine their own old age, so they recruited college-age men and women, gave them goggles and sent them into a virtual reality laboratory where they encountered a kind of mirror.

Read the whole story: NPR

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