Nostalgia charms loneliness away

November 13th, 2008 - 12:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Nov 13 (IANS) All of us are familiar with nostalgia, a trip down memory lane that evokes a sense of our most cherished experiences, tinged with a bit of sadness at their loss. The latest study 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 of Sun Yat-Sen University, along with Constantine Sedikides and Tim Wildschut from University of Southampton, explored the connection between loneliness and nostalgia.

Participants included children, college students and factory workers. Besides 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, according to a release of the Association for Psychological Science (APS).

These findings suggest that nostalgia amplifies perceptions of social support, and in this way, counteracts feelings of loneliness. These findings also revealed that the most resilient individuals are more likely to use nostalgia to overcome bouts of loneliness.

These results 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.”

These findings were published in Psychological Science, a journal of the APS.

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