Connect With Your Future Self to Change Behaviour
Change My Face is in the business of helping to nudge and improve your customer behaviours towards better health and wealth. It can be difficult to explain in a few words why this works but it seems that visualising our future self does in fact help to shift our current habits. As evidence of this, our technology has recently been used in a fascinating study which enabled young offenders to interact with an aged version of themselves in virtual reality.
During the interaction, the participants refected on their current lifestyle, alternating between the perspective of their present self and that of their future self. The theory was that the embodied experience would increase their ability to imagine themselves in the future and reduce their engagement in self-defeating behavior.
The results indicated that the interaction increased vividness of the future self compared to baseline and reduced self-defeating behavior, including alcohol use and overspending, just one week later.
Our future and the realisation that we will grow older are not always on the forefront of our minds. There is ample research showing that many people excessively discount the future and make decisions that run counter to their long-term self-interests. One group for which the inclination towards short-term gratifcation is particularly pronounced is criminal ofenders.
Following this experience, students exposed to their future self were less likely to cheat compared to those in a control group who had seen their present self refected in the virtual mirror.
Previous studies have related the ease and detail with which people are able to imagine and describe their self in the future, referred to as vividness of the future self, to improved intertemporal decision making. Hal Hershfeld for example, showed that individuals who interacted with a realistic version of their future self in virtual reality (VR) exhibited an increased tendency to accept delayed monetary rewards over immediate ones compared to individuals who interacted with a version of their future self.
In addition, Van Gelder found that daily interaction with a future version of the self via a social media platform led to reduced self-reported delinquent behavior among high-school students.