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ConsumerWatch: Virtual Aging Photos May Offer Incentive To Save

STANFORD (CBS 5) -- It's not easy for young people at the start of their careers to imagine themselves ever retiring. But researchers at Stanford say having a clear visual image of how we might look like at retirement age could help us face reality and better plan for it.

Stanford's Virtual Human Interaction Lab provides students with a realistic look at their future selves – wrinkles, jowls, gray hair and all. Sometimes it's a shock.

"It's a very powerful, visceral, emotional experience of having to be a different version of you," said lab founder Jeremy Bailenson.

Psychology professor Laura Carstensen believes virtual aging can help young people save more for retirement.

"If we could connect to ourselves 30 or 40 years out, then we believe people will behave in a way that will recognize and take care of that future self," Carstensen told CBS 5 ConsumerWatch.

Carstensen said students who were shown images of themselves as they might look at 65, proved to be better savers for both retirement and a rainy day.

Stanford senior Christopher Rodgers recently got a taste of what he'll look like at 65. "It looks pretty plausible to me, especially the sunken cheeks," said Rodgers. "I think it'll make me consider a little bit more carefully where do I want to live, what do I want to do, how do I want to spend my life."

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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