The mid-2000s Toyota Prius was a weird-looking box of metal: Viewed from the front, it sloped upward with swollen curves. From the back, it was chunky and pug-nosed.
But from a marketing perspective, the Prius’s visual oddness was a selling point. While other car companies designed their hybrid vehicles to blend in with the inoffensive smoothness of the typical midsize car, Toyota sculpted the Prius to stand out. Its aesthetic distinctiveness is one reason for the car’s success in the past decade: In 2010, nearly half of all hybrids sold in the U.S. were Priuses. (Since then, the Prius hasn’t fared as well, but neither have hybrid cars in general, in part due to falling gas prices.)
A study in Psychological Science published online last month investigated an interesting way of dissolving that temporal buffer. The authors theorized that people who were forced to think about their own legacies—how they would be seen by future generations—would be more likely to care about protecting the environment. In one experiment, some subjects were asked to write an essay about what they wanted to be remembered for, and another group didn’t write an essay. Both groups were later told that they were entered to win a small cash reward and were asked how much of that reward they’d be willing to donate to an environmental charity. The essay-writing group pledged on average 33 percent of their possible reward, while those who didn’t dwell on their personal legacy only offered up 23 percent.
Read the whole story: The Atlantic