• Some people find it more difficult to delay rewards than others. In three experiments, we tested a “future self-continuity” hypothesis that individual differences in the perception of one’s present self as continuous with a future self would be associated with measures of saving in the laboratory and everyday life. Higher future self-continuity (assessed by a novel index) predicted reduced discounting of future rewards in a laboratory task, more matches in adjectival descriptions of present and future selves, and greater lifetime accumulation of financial assets (even after controlling for age and education). In addition to demonstrating the reliability and validity of the future self-continuity index, these findings are consistent with the notion that increased future self-continuity might promote saving for the future.
  • An evolving approach to the science of pleasure suggests that each of us contains multiple selves—all with different desires, and all fighting for control. If this is right, the pursuit of happiness becomes even trickier. Can one self "bind" another self if the two want different things? Are you always better off when a Good Self wins? And should outsiders, such as employers and policy makers, get into the fray?
  • An editor from the Los Angeles Times called me recently with a very good question that went something like this: “If global warming is the devastating threat that Al Gore says it is, then why aren’t people freaking out about it? And don’t tell me that people just don’t care about the future because people do all sorts of things with the future in mind, such as quitting smoking and saving for retirement. But for some reason they don’t seem to get bent out of shape over global warming. What can psychology tell us about that?”

    I don’t know if I’d ever thought about this question consciously before, but I must have been thinking about it unconsciously for quite some time because once the question was posed, the answers came quickly. The resulting essay was published today in the Los Angeles Times, and I reproduce it for you here. I keep having the odd thought that I will someday look back on this and realize that it was the only important thing I ever wrote.

  • There is growing awareness that the profound changes in the environment (eg, in diet and other lifestyle conditions) that began with the introduction of agriculture and animal husbandry ~10,000 years ago occurred too recently on an evolutionary time scale for the human genome to adjust. In conjunction with this discordance between our ancient, genetically determined biology and the nutritional, cultural, and activity patterns of contemporary Western populations, many of the so-called diseases of civilization have emerged. In particular, food staples and food-processing procedures introduced during the Neolithic and Industrial Periods have fundamentally altered 7 crucial nutritional characteristics of ancestral hominin diets…. The evolutionary collision of our ancient genome with the nutritional qualities of recently introduced foods may underlie many of the chronic diseases of Western civilization.

  • On the Arthur Devany evolutionary fitness diet. "My usual diet is simplicity itself: eat too little and lay off the booze. All other dietary schemes struck me as over-elaborations or, in many cases, cunning excuses to keep eating. Calories in, calories out was, I thought, the only rational basis on which to lose weight. The body is a bag that gets lighter if you take out more than you put in. This time, however, I had a more sophisticated plan – Arthur’s – and boy, did it work. I adopted the Arthur plan because the last time was in America I had encountered Nassim Nicholas Taleb… [who] couldn’t stop talking about the Arthur diet. Nassim embarked on his regime after someone told him he looked like the writer Umberto Eco, a fatty. He had lost 20lb in three months after getting hooked on Arthur via his website (arthurdevany.com ). Nassim still looks a bit like Umberto, but not fat.