Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow: Individual differences in future self-continuity account for saving

How thinking about tomorrow (or as Zimbardo would say having a positive future time perspective) correlates with savings.

Abstract (Via JDM)

Some people find it more difficult to delay rewards than others. In three experiments, we tested a “future selfcontinuity”
hypothesis that individual differences in the perception of one’s present self as continuous with a future self would be associated with measures of saving in the laboratory and everyday life. Higher future self-continuity (assessed by a novel index) predicted reduced discounting of future rewards in a laboratory task, more matches in adjectival descriptions of present and future selves, and greater lifetime accumulation of financial assets (even after controlling for age and education). In addition to demonstrating the reliability and validity of the future self-continuity index, these findings are consistent with the notion that increased future self-continuity might promote saving for the future.

Introduction (Via JDM)

Self-continuity represents one of the most enduring puzzles of personal identity, pondered by ancient Greek and Buddhist thinkers alike (Conze, 1959; Plutarch, 1932). If the body changes over time — eventually being replaced by entirely new material — at what point does the old self become an entirely new and distinct being? Selfcontinuity might vary by individual, with some individuals endorsing greater connection to their future selves than others. Beyond philosophical appeal, individual differences in the experience of self-continuity could have pragmatic consequences for financial well-being.

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About Miguel Barbosa

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30. June 2009 by Miguel Barbosa
Categories: Behavioral Economics, Curated Readings | Leave a comment

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