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How do our brains perceive our future selves? One psychologist wanted to know

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Future You.

Why is it so hard to plan for the future? Psychologist Hal Hershfield found that our brains perceive our future self as a separate person — with less urgent wants and needs than our present self.

About Hal Hershfield

Hal Hershfield is a professor of marketing, behavioral decision making and psychology at UCLA's Anderson School of Management and holds the UCLA Anderson Board of Advisors Term Chair in Management. His research, which sits at the intersection of psychology and economics, examines the ways we can improve our long-term decisions.

He earned his PhD in psychology from Stanford University. Hershfield publishes in top academic journals and also contributes op-eds to The New York Times, Harvard Business Review, The Wall Street Journal and other outlets. He consults with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, many financial services firms such as Fidelity, First Republic, Prudential, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, and Avantis and marketing agencies such as Droga5. His latest book is Your Future Self: How to Make Tomorrow Better Today.

This segment of TED Radio Hour was produced by Andrea Gutierrez and edited by Sanaz Meshkinpour. You can follow us on Facebook @TEDRadioHour and email us at

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Manoush Zomorodi
Manoush Zomorodi is the host of TED Radio Hour. She is a journalist, podcaster and media entrepreneur, and her work reflects her passion for investigating how technology and business are transforming humanity.
Andrea Gutierrez
Andrea Gutierrez (she/her) is an assistant producer on It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders. She's drawn to stories at the intersections of gender, race, class and ability in arts and culture.
Sanaz Meshkinpour
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