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.

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“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.

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“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.”

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