Hal E. Hershfield, Ph.D.
Considering Our Future Selves
Psychologist Hal Hershfield studies how thinking about time transforms the emotions and alters the judgments and decisions people make. While he was a Ph.D. student at Stanford University, his research concentrated on the psychology of long-term decision-making and how time affects people’s lives — specifically at a moment when Americans are living longer and saving less.
One of Hershfield’s most well-known discoveries suggests that when people are confronted with their “future selves” they experience an emotional sense of connection that can influence long-term financial and ethical decision-making. When do we finally become our future selves? Hershfield says, “It all depends on how we think about thinking about the present. People who are able to step outside of the here-and-now in a meaningful way are better able to see how the past, the present and the future are connected.