Broadly, I study the ways that thinking about time can transform the emotions people feel and alter the judgments and decisions that they make. Within this framework, I have carried out two related lines of research. First, I study the role that considerations of the future play in guiding emotional experience and directing consumer decision-making. In this vein, I have studied how an awareness of imminent endings a) gives rise to a mixture of happiness and sadness and b) directs one’s attention and even one’s gaze toward positive information. Further, I have found that looking ahead in time and feeling a sense of connection to one’s future self can impact long-term financial decision-making, converting a consumer into a saver. In my second line of research I examine the ways that reflections about the past can change investments in the present. Here, I study the ways that counterfactual reflection – or thoughts about what might have been rather than what was – fosters a greater sense of commitment to companies, countries, people, and consumer products. In both lines of research, I take a multi-method interdisciplinary approach – using experiments, field studies, surveys, neuroimaging, eye-tracking, and even virtual reality – that allows me to make contributions at both the basic and applied levels.
REPRESENTATIVE PUBLICATIONS & MANUSCRIPTS
van Gelder, J-L, Hershfield, H.E., & Nordgren, L.F. (in press). Vividness of the future self predicts delinquency. Psychological Science.
Hershfield, H.E., Scheibe, S., Sims, T., & Carstensen, L.L. (2013). When bad can be good: Mixed emotions benefit physical health outcomes across the life span. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 4(1), 54-61.
Adler, J.*, & Hershfield, H.E*. (2012). Mixed emotional experience is associated with and precedes improvements in psychological well-being. PLoS ONE, 7(4), 1-10.
Bryan, C.J. & Hershfield, H.E. (2012). You owe it to yourself: Boosting retirement saving with a responsibility-based appeal. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 141(3), 429-432.
Kray, L.J., Hershfield, H.E., George, L., & Galinsky, A.D. (in press). Twists of fate: Moments in time and what might have been in the emergence of meaning. In Markman, K., Proulx, T., & Lindber, M. (eds). The Psychology of Meaning. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.
Hershfield, H.E., Brown, C.B., & Kray, L.J. (in press). Any second could be the second: How thinking about what might have been affects the emergence of meaning and commitment across the life span. In Routledge, C. & Hicks, J. (eds). The Experience of Meaning in Life: Classical Perspectives, Emerging Themes, and Controversies.
Hershfield, H.E., Cohen, T., & Thompson, L. (2012). Short horizons and shady situations: When lack of continuity to our future selves leads to unethical behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 117, 298-310.
Hershfield, H.E. (2011). Future self-continuity: How conceptions of the future self transform intertemporal choice. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1235(2011), 30-43.
Hershfield, H.E., Goldstein, D.G., Sharpe, W.F., Fox, J., Yeykelis, L., Carstensen, L.L., & Bailenson, J. (2011). Increasing saving behavior through age progressed renderings of the future self. Journal of Marketing Research, 48, S23-S27.
- The New York Times, The Wall St. Journal, ABC World News, Psychology Today, Scientific American, U.S. News & World Report, NPR
Carstensen, L.L., Turan, B., Scheibe, S., Ram, N., Ersner-Hershfield, H, Samanez-Larkin, G.R., Brooks, K., & Nesselroade, J.R. (2011). Emotional experience improves with age: Evidence based on over 10 years of experience sampling. Psychology and Aging, 26(1), 21-33.
Ersner-Hershfield, H., Galinsky, A., Kray, L., & King, B. (2010). Country, company, connections: Counterfactual origins increase patriotism, organizational commitment, and social investment. Psychological Science, 21(10), 1479-1486.
Ersner-Hershfield, H., Carvel, D., & Isaacowitz, D. (2009). Feeling happy and sad, but only seeing the positive: Poignancy and the positivity effect in attention. Motivation and Emotion, 33(4), 333-342.
Ersner-Hershfield, H., Garton, M.T., Ballard, K., Samanez-Larkin, G.R., & Knutson, B. (2009). Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow: Individual differences in future self-continuity account for saving. Judgment and Decision Making, 4(4), 280-286.
Ersner-Hershfield, H., Wimmer, G.E., & Knutson, B. (2009). Saving for the future self: Neural measures of future self-continuity predict temporal discounting. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 4(1), 85-92.
Ersner-Hershfield, H., Mikels, J., Sullivan, S., & Carstensen, L.L. (2008). Poignancy: Mixed emotional experience in the face of meaningful endings. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 94(1), 158-167.
*Authors contributed equally and share first authorship
MANUSCRIPTS UNDER REVIEW OR REVISION
Hershfield, H.E., & Galinsky, A.D. Respect for the elderly predicts national saving and individual savings decisions.
Hershfield, H.E. & Roese, N.J. Dual payoff warnings on credit card statements elicit suboptimal payoff decisions.
Huang, L., Hershfield, H.E., & Galinsky, A.D. Leaning into impulsivity: Future-fantasizing ironically hinders future-oriented behavior.
Nordgren, L.F. & Hershfield, H.E. Need deprivation motivates social affiliation.
van Gelder, J-L, Hershfield, H.E., & Nordgren, L.F. Vividness of the future self predicts delinquency.
For a complete list of publications see:
CV | Scholar | Pubmed
Counterfactual Reflection and Commitment to Organizations and Products
In collaboration with Adam Galinsky and Neal Roese
Automatic Future Enrollment
In collaboration with Dan Goldstein and Shlomo Benartzi
The Wealth Illusion
In collaboration with Shlomo Benartzi, Dan Goldstein, John Payne, and Richard Thaler
Close Grandparents as Proxies for the Future Self
In collaboration with Loran Nordgren
Temporal Horizons During Endings
In collaboration with Jeff Larsen