Caring for Your Future Self

I’ve already observed this in myself. Imprudent action feels like an unwillingness to help future-me at now-me’s expense.

The researchers asked a group of college seniors — three weeks before graduation — to read a passage that described college graduation either as an event that would prompt a major change in their identities or as an event that would prompt only a relatively trivial change. Compared to students who read the passage describing graduation as a small change, those who read a description of the event as a major change were much more likely to make more impatient choices, choosing to receive a gift certificate worth $120 in the next week rather than wait a year for up to $240.

Their work suggests that people can be motivated to hold onto their money, or make more prudent decisions by increasing their sense of connectedness to their future selves, the researchers said.