Researchers find that a computer program showing people an image of their future self motivates them to save more for retirement.

Researchers have found that young people may be willing to save more money for retirement if they are shown a virtual image of how they’ll look when they’re older. Hal Hershfield, assistant professor of marketing at NYU Stern, believes that the software can help to minimize the discounting of present decisions with future outcomes. The image of their future self gives young people a reality check and helps them imagine their retirement.

“Increasing Saving Behavior Through Age-Progressed Renderings of the Future Self” was published in the Journal of Marketing Research. Virtual images were created of the working-age research participants, who were then asked to take part in some investment scenarios. Those who were shown the pictures of their future selves were found to be willing to put aside 33% more to their retirement than the control group. In another study, participants who saw their age-progressed images were willing to put around twice as much into a long-term savings account than those who didn’t. Hershfield said:

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