FutureU is a novel and scalable behavioral intervention to increase future-orientation in offenders by connecting them to their future self. The research program, which was started with the (Dutch) Probation Service as a partner and stakeholder, is premised on the well-established notion that delinquents often live like there is no tomorrow because that tomorrow is not cognitively present in their minds. The intervention uses virtual reality and a smart­phone application to present late adolescents / young adults with a virtual version of their future self and allows them to interact with this future self to make them more aware of the future and more inclined to take the long-term consequences of their behavior into account. FutureU, which is ERC-funded (ERC Consolidator Grant 772911), aligns with the short-term mindsets and crime project in the sense that it assumes that disregard for the future underlies the choice for crime and that future-orientation is in fact a malleable characteristic rather than a stable disposition of people.


Selected Publications

Esther C. A. Mertens, Job van der Schalk, Aniek Siezenga, and Jean-Louis Van Gelder, "Stimulating a future-oriented mindset and goal attainment through a smartphone-based intervention: Study protocol for a randomized controlled trial," Internet Interventions 27, 100509 (2022).
Jean-Louis Van Gelder, L. J. M. Cornet, N. P. Zwalua, Esther C. A. Mertens, and Job van der Schalk, "Interaction with the future self in virtual reality reduces self-defeating behavior in a sample of convicted offenders," Scientific Reports 12 (1), 2254 (2022).
Benjamin Ganschow, Liza Cornet, Sven Zebel, and Jean-Louis Van Gelder, "Looking Back From the Future: Perspective Taking in Virtual Reality Increases Future Self-Continuity," Frontiers in Psychology (12), 664687 (2021).



Guest: Aniek Siezenga • 12/2022
In this episode Christopher Murphy talks with Aniek Siezenga, a doctoral researcher working on the FutureU project developed by Jean-Louis van Gelder, about how a VR program “ages” its participants to make them more aware of the impact that present actions and decisions can have on their future self.

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