Those were the days: counteracting loneliness with nostalgia

November 12, 2008

With the days getting shorter (and colder) and the Holidays quickly approaching, many of us start thinking back to days gone by. This sentimentality and desire for the past is known as nostalgia. All of us are struck with nostalgic feelings from time to time but a new study in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, indicates that nostalgia may serve a greater purpose than just taking us back to the good old days.

Psychologists Xinyue Zhou and Ding-Guo Gao from Sun Yat-Sen University, along with Constantine Sedikides and Tim Wildschut from the University of Southampton explored the connection between loneliness and nostalgia. They ran a series of experiments that had participants answer questions related to feelings of loneliness, social support and nostalgia. The study participants included children, college students and factory workers. In addition, the factory workers were also assessed on their resilience (their ability to recover from traumatic events and adverse life situations).

The results showed that individuals who felt the loneliest reported receiving the least amount of social support. What was interesting, however, was that these participants turned out to be the most nostalgic. In addition, when nostalgia was induced in a number of the study participants, they in turn perceived to have the greatest amount of social support. These findings suggest that nostalgia amplifies perceptions of social support, and in this way, counteracts feelings of loneliness. In addition, the findings revealed that the most resilient individuals are more likely to use nostalgia to overcome feelings of loneliness.

These results have very important implications to clinical psychology and indicate that nostalgia may be used in cognitive therapy, as a coping mechanism that individuals turn to when they are confronted with social exclusion. The authors suggest that "individuals could be trained to benefit from the restorative function of nostalgia when actual social support is lacking or is perceived as lacking".

Source: Association for Psychological Science

Explore further: Rise of billion pound replica kit industry has changed the design of football shirts, study finds

Related Stories

What is retail politics?

August 19, 2013

Shaking hands. Kissing babies. Throwing snags on the barbie, or wandering through a suburban shopping centre. These are the familiar scenes of "retail politics", a campaign style in which candidates sell themselves and their ...

Americans 45 and older are new voting-age majority

May 4, 2011

(AP) -- For the first time, Americans 45 and older make up a majority of the voting-age population, giving older Americans wider influence in elections as the U.S. stands divided over curtailing Medicare and other benefits ...

'Guerrilla drive-ins' turn nostalgia on its head

June 9, 2009

(AP) -- Think the only way to see a big-screen movie is while slurping a 64-oz. soft drink, eating a $5 candy bar and shushing the wannabe film critic behind you? That's not the case anymore, thanks to people like John Young, ...

Recommended for you

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

Quantum Theory May Explain Wishful Thinking

April 14, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Humans don’t always make the most rational decisions. As studies have shown, even when logic and reasoning point in one direction, sometimes we chose the opposite route, motivated by personal bias or simply ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.