Differential temporal salience of earning and saving

Nat Commun. 2018 Jul 20;9(1):2843. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-05201-9.


People are often characterized as poor savers. Here we examined whether cues associated with earning and saving have differential salience for attention and action. We first modeled earning and saving after positive and negative variants of monetary reinforcement, i.e., gains versus avoiding loss. Despite their equivalent absolute magnitude in a monetary incentive task, colors predicting saving were judged to appear after those that predicted earning in a temporal-order judgment task. This saving posteriority effect also occurred when savings were framed as earnings that come slightly later. Colors predicting savings, whether they acquired either negative or positive value, persisted in their posteriority. An attentional asymmetry away from money-saved relative to money-earned, potentially contributes to decreased everyday salience and future wealth.