Recently Posted on SSRN:
PETER H. HUANG, University of Colorado Law School
People routinely engage in mental time travel when they anticipate their future and remember their past. Many of these anticipations and remembrances are systematically inaccurate, which lead people to hold illusions about how they did, should, or will behave. This Article analyzes temporally caused illusions that people have about financial, ethical, and tortious behavior. An intuitive belief is that people should be able to learn how to improve their decision-making over time from experience. The reality is that learning from experience is problematic because experiences are complex, endogenous, and scarce. We also learn from our selectively reconstructed memories of experiences. People have limited attention with which to learn and are motivated to pay attention to things they like and ignore things they find unpleasant. This Article applies research about learning in general and learning from experience in particular to explain how and why human learning will inevitably be incomplete. This Article considers legal implications of bounded learning. Creative examples of responses to bounded learning include financial entertainment computer video games, such as one where a player is a vampire managing a blood bar and planning for retirement. Empathy, identity, and tangibility gaps exist between our present and future selves. Two tools that act effectively as behavioral time machines to facilitate our mental time travel and close the above gaps are: future lifestyle imagination exercises and virtual reality avatars of our aged-morphed future selves. This Article concludes by explaining how fostering increased mindfulness can help people avoid temporal illusions.