Project: “Owing it to yourself: Exploring the effectiveness of duty-based arguments in motivating retirement saving”
Primary Mentor: Gregory M. Walton, PhD, Department of Psychology
Secondary Mentor Dale T. Miller, PhD, Department of Organizational Behavior, Graduate School of Business
Christopher J. Bryan received his PhD in Social Psychology from Stanford University in 2009. His research is directed at using psychology to better understand important social problems with the goal of developing policy ideas to address them. One such social problem is the failure of many to save adequately for their retirement. If this trend is not reversed soon, millions will face serious financial problems as they age. Some recent research in psychology suggests that one explanation for this failure to save is that people often think of their future selves as though they were other people rather than extensions of themselves in the present. Consequently, saving for retirement can feel like giving money away to another person. Dr. Bryan’s SCL project explores the effectiveness of a novel intervention to overcome this barrier to saving: appeals to a sense of “duty” to one’s future self. Initial findings suggest that such appeals can be more effective at motivating people to save than more traditional appeals to a sense of rational self-interest.
Bryan is currently Assistant Professor of Psychology at University of California, San Diego.