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Bryan & Hershfield, 2012: Reflecting on self-interest or their responsability to future selves increased saving rates among university staff members


Bryan, C. J., & Hershfield, H. E. (2013). You owe it to yourself: Boosting retirement saving with a responsibility-based appeal. Decision, 1(S), 2.
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University staff members saving less than 10% of their salaries for retirement were encouraged to reflect on either their self-interest (“We urge you to consider your long-term interest and to start saving more now. After all, your long-term well-being is at stake. Your decisions now will determine how much money is available to you when you retire.”) or their responsibility to their future self (“We urge you to consider the responsibility you have to yourself in retirement and urge you to start saving more now…your ‘future self’ is completely dependent on you…”). For people who felt psychologically close to their retirement-age self, the social responsibility message increased savings rates greater than the self-interest message (0.97 percentage points vs. 0.12 percentage points). For participants who felt distant from their retirement-age self, there was no difference in effectiveness.

Psychological Process:

Psychological Process 2:


What is the Person Trying to Understand?

What Desired Meaning is At Stake?

What Desired Meaning is At Stake?

What About it?

Approach to Desired Meaning

Approach to Desired Meaning


Psychological Question Addressed

Psychological Question Addressed

Psychological Question Addressed

Psychological Process 3:

Social Area:

Intervention Technique:

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Greg Walton & Timothy Wilson