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.


Hershfield, H.E., Bang, H.M., & Weber, E.U. (in press). National differences in environmental concern and performance predicted by country age. Psychological Science.

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.

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


Tully, S.M., Hershfield, H.E., & Meyvis, T. Making limited discretionary money last: Financial constraints increase preference for material purchases by focusing consumers on longevity.

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.

For a complete list of publications see:

CV | Scholar | Pubmed