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Age-Progressed Images: A Way to Increase Savings?

February 23, 2012 – Scottsdale, AZ - A colleague of mine recently forwarded to me a brief article in the January 2012 edition of Quirk’s Marketing Research Review that referenced a November 2011 article called “Increasing Saving Behavior Through Age-Progressed Renderings of the Future Self,” published in the Journal of Marketing Research.   In a series of experiments, the researchers created age-progressed images of the research participants to show them what they will likely look like when they reach retirement age.  They, then, were asked to participate in a variety of investment scenarios.  When shown an image of their actual future selves, working-age adults were willing to allocate about 33% more of their paychecks to their retirement than participants who were not shown such a picture of their future selves.   In another related experiment, participants who saw their age-progressed photo were willing to put away about twice as much in a long-term savings account than those who did not.

So, it would appear that showing individuals an actual retirement rendering of themselves in the future may convince them to save more.  What do you think?  Is this a new technique for employers and financial educators to use to encourage people to save? 

I guess, for me, it might depend on how good I look!  Perhaps a new trend in behavioral economics that we’ll save for next year’s America Saves Week!

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of WorldatWork.

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Thu February 23, 2012 10:09 PMReport Abuse
E Brennan
Senior Associate
Member Since: 4/19/1979
Comments: 590

Makes sense.  Seeing a projection of your old, weathered and lined self makes one sensitive to mortality and the need to eventually slow down.  Better idea would be to project the type of home they will be able to afford at certain savings levels, to see what they are setting themselves up for in their future by their present decisions.  That future reality is determined by today's actions.

We need more programs and courses on behavioral economics!