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The Psychology of Nostalgia

25 February 2013 One Comment

Ratings for Nickelodeon’s TV block,”Nick- At-Nite” are through the roof and it’s no surprise as the kids of the 90s have succumbed to acute nostalgia. Now that may sound a little like a diagnosis, but psychologists and market researchers alike have decided to make ‘Nostalgia’ one of their primary subjects of study in recent years.

In the 20th century, nostalgia was declared a psychiatric disorder with symptoms that included insomnia, anxiety, and depression. Back then, it was primarily found in boarding school students and immigrants. Nowadays, nostalgia has been shown to be therapeutic and often has positive effects on mood and emotional stability according to University of Southampton psychologist Constantine Sedikides and his colleagues in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

A “Nostalgia Workout” which consists of writing down a favorite memory and/recalling a good experience for about 20 minutes per day has been shown to be effective in mood-boosting and wellness studies.Those who practiced this “workout” felt more alive and energetic on average. It essentially behaves as a sort of natural anti-depressant.

According to The University of Cologne’s Dr. FilippoCordaro , “Recalling these experiences makes us feel a stronger sense of social connectedness with others. We’ve done some research looking at what people usually describe as a ‘typical nostalgic experience’ and find that people typically think about positive experiences in which the self is the protagonist, but they are surrounded by and interacting with others.”

Some researchers say this is why the 2000s were a retro decade, with cultural influences from the past 50 years appearing in popular culture.

So if you’re feeling a little blue, just think of a good memory or catch a favorite TV show from your childhood and (statistically) you’ll be all the better for it.

Lory Martinez

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