Merrill Edge (a self directed online investment arm of Merrill Lynch and part of Bank of America) has launched a really interesting online application that shows you how you would look in the future when you get old to prompt people into starting to save for their retirement.
The application is powered by ModiFace (a Virtual Makeover Technology company) that creates a composite photo of your face revealing wrinkles, spots, saggy skin and all the bells and whistles that come with ageing and being old.
The insight for the app came from a study conducted in 2011 where researchers found that we’re often reluctant to save for retirement because deep down, we don’t identify with the older person we’ll one day be. It was nicely encapsulated into the quote “To people estranged from their future selves. saving is like a choice between spending money today or giving it to a stranger years from now”.
Test subjects in the study also underwent a virtual reality simulatin that showed them a computer generated vision of themselves at retirement age and then asked them questions about money. Researchers concluded that those who interacted with their virtual future selves exhibited an increase tendenacy to delay gratification (i.e. save and accept later monetary rewards over immediate ones) and save more.
Try it for yourself here