Saving For Your Future Self: The Role of Imaginary Experiences

C. Neil Macrae, Jason P. Mitchell, Marius Golubickis, Nerissa S.P. Ho, Rain Sherlock, Raffaella Parlongo, Olivia C.M. Simpson, Brittany M. Christian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


Despite increased longevity, many people fail to save the funds necessary to support their retirement. In an attempt both to elucidate and remedy this failing, research exploring the ‘future-self continuity’ hypothesis has revealed that temporal discounting is decreased and saving increased when connections between one’s current and future self are strengthened. Here we explored the possibility that a basic component of mental imagery — spatial visual perspective — may be an important determinant of people’s decisions to spend now or save for the future. The results of two experiments supported this prediction. Rates of saving were enhanced when a distant-future event was generated from a third-person versus first-person vantage point, an effect that was mediated by visual bodily awareness during mental imagery.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)384-398
Number of pages15
JournalSelf and Identity
Issue number4
Early online date7 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2017


  • self
  • prospection
  • mental imagery
  • visual perspective
  • intertemporal choice


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