Nostalgia and Psychological Health and Well-Being

When people engage in nostalgic reflection they are revisiting the experiences in life that they most cherish. Nostalgic memories are meaningful memories.

Our lab has discovered that nostalgia serves important psychological functions. Nostalgia helps people regulate distress. Negative states such as sadness, loneliness, and meaninglessness trigger nostalgia. Further, engaging in nostalgia counters these negative states.

Nostalgia increases positive mood, self-esteem, feelings of social connectedness, optimism about the future, and perceptions of meaning in life. Furthermore, nostalgia motivates people to focus on cultivating meaningful relationships and pursue important life goals. In addition, as people get older, nostalgia makes them feel youthful and energetic. Nostalgia also reduces existential fears about death.

Images courtesy of J Routledge

Select Publications

Bocincova, A., Nelson. T. A., Johnson, J., & Routledge, C. (in press). Experimentally induced nostalgia reduces the amplitude of the event-related negativity. Social Neuroscience

Abeyta, A. A., Nelson, T. A., & Routledge, C. (in press). The pushes and pulls of the past: The effects of attachment-related avoidance and nostalgia on approach-oriented social goals. Personality and Individual Differences.

Abeyta, A. A. & Routledge, C. (2016). Fountain of youth: The impact of nostalgia on youthfulness and implications for health. Self & Identity, 15, 356-369.

Routledge, C. (2015). Nostalgia: A psychological resource. New York: Psychology Press – Taylor & Francis. 

Abeyta, A. A., Routledge, C., & Juhl, J. (2015). Looking back to move forward: Nostalgia as a psychological resource for promoting relationship aspirations and overcoming relationship challenges. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 109, 1029-1044.

Routledge, C., Wildschut, T., Sedikides, C., & Juhl, J. (2013). Nostalgia as a resource for psychological health and well-being. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 808 - 818. 

Routledge C., Arndt, J., Wildschut, T., Sedikides, C., Hart, C., Juhl, J., Vingerhoets, A. J., & Scholtz, W. (2011). The past makes the present meaningful: Nostalgia as an existential resource. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101, 638-652. 

Routledge, C., Arndt, J., Sedikides, C., & Wildschut, T. (2008). A blast from the past: The terror management function of nostalgia. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44, 132 - 140.