“Don’t think you’ll ever get old?” – This is how the article in Wired starts. It explores the difference in people’s savings behavior depending on if they associate themselves with their future selves or not. I believe it’s very relevant not only for retirement plans, but also for fighting aging.
There is a study done by Stanford researchers that shows that people don’t save now, because they don’t think they will become this old person in need one day. There is no emotional link normally. However, this perception can be changed.
The researchers immersed test subjects into a virtual reality simulation that showed them a computer-generated vision of themselves at retirement age and then asked them questions about money. The study found that “those who interacted with their virtual future selves exhibited an increased tendency to accept later monetary rewards over immediate ones.” In other words, they were willing to save more.
And in other words – this could potentially motivate people to fight aging, be proactive in their health issues, become more informed about the latest technologies of life extension and give away their money for longevity research. Perhaps, we could start building these bridges in people’s minds that they won’t always be healthy, productive and good-looking. This is hard, because a person needs to interact with their future self, associate with them in order to change their attitude and behavior. But we can definitely start with this exercise, I mean, the web tool that “ages” your picture. There are plenty of these tools on the Internet. They could be incorporated into fighting aging related websites, for example, and become a necessary first step for the visitors. I know this is a slippery slope, however, since this is an exercise, a test, we can always switch back if the audience is not receptive. I would love to hear your opinions on this.