What Would You Do Differently If You Could See Yourself 20 Years Older?

Undergraduates who had gazed at their 40-year-old selves in virtual “mirrors” were 74% less likely to cheat for extra cash on a subsequent trivia test, says a team led by Jean-Louis van Gelder of the Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement and Hal E. Hershfield of NYU. This and another experiment suggest that one reason people make self-defeating choices such as engaging in unethical behavior is that their ability to imagine their future selves is limited. They’re less inclined to indulge in illegal acts if they can see vivid images of themselves such as the computer simulations presented by the researchers.

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