Those were the days: counteracting loneliness with nostalgia

Nov 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: Dispositional mindfulness associated with better cardiovascular health

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Software models ocean currents for oil and gas search

7 minutes ago

A study involving the use of streamline visualisation has found the technology can help guide electromagnetic transmitter and receiver placements, thereby aiding the search for oil and gas on the seafloor.

Intelligent materials that work in space

11 minutes ago

ARQUIMEA, a company that began in the Business Incubator in the Science Park of the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, will be testing technology it has developed in the International Space Station. The technology ...

World population likely to peak by 2070

22 minutes ago

World population will likely peak at around 9.4 billion around 2070 and then decline to around 9 billion by 2100, according to new population projections from IIASA researchers, published in a new book, World Population and ...

Recommended for you

New drug naming system unveiled at ECNP in Berlin

5 hours ago

What's in a name? Doctors have found that the name of the drug you are prescribed significantly influences how the patient sees the treatment. Now in a significant shift, the world's major psychiatry organisations are proposing ...

User comments : 0