When it comes to saving for their retirements, more and more Americans admit they’re not saving enough -- or not earning enough -- to ensure they’ll have the cash they’ll need to ride out their golden years in style.

Soaring healthcare costs, the implosion of the U.S. housing market, high unemployment and the stock market’s recent and fairly sustained volatility are often cited as the main reasons for many Baby Boomers’ and even younger workers’ inability to put aside the requisite resources they'll need in retirement.

But a new research study published in the American Marketing Association’s “Journal of Marketing Research” found that when people were shown age-progressed images of themselves depicting what they’d look like at 65, working-age adults were willing to allocate almost 33% more of their paychecks to their retirement accounts than those who didn't get a sneak peek at their future faces.

Talk about facing the facts.

In a series of experiments, researchers Hal E. Hershfield, Daniel G. Goldstein, William F. Sharpe, Jesse Fox, Leo Yeykelis, Laura L. Carstensen and Jeremy N. Bailenson created age-progressed images of the research participants and then asked them to participate in investment scenarios.

In another online virtual reality experiment, the researchers said participants who saw their age-progressed photo were also willing to put away about twice as much in a long-term savings account than those who did not.

“One way to increase the feeling of similarity and connection between one's current self and one's future self is by showing people realistic, visual images of their future selves,” Hershfield, an assistant professor of marketing at New York University, said in the report. "When people are exposed to realistic images of their future selves, they are more willing to act in future-oriented manners, such as taking money that could be spent today and saving it for tomorrow."

In a similar but unrelated survey released this week by the Associated Press and the lifestyle website LifeGoesStrong.com, 73% of Baby Boomers said they now are planning to work into their retirement years, up from 67% who acknowledged this sobering reality in March.

In all, the survey found, 53% of Boomers said they don’t feel confident they’ll be able to afford a comfortable retirement, up from 44% this spring.

Larry Barrett writes for Financial Planning.

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