A place where you feel nostalgic can be a place that’s good for your mental performance and for your soul.
Research indicates that there are particular benefits of thinking nostalgically and architectural, interior, and sensory design can make nostalgic experiences more or less likely. Scents can lead to nostalgic thinking for groups of people, for example, and so can seeing memory-evoking images.
- When humans feel nostalgic, they’re apt to think more creatively (van Tilburg, Sedikides, and Wilschut, 2015). Van Tilburg and team, via methodologies used, eliminated good moods as an explanation for the effect of nostalgia on creativity they found.
- Zhou and coworkers (2012) determined that, “Higher levels of music-evoked nostalgia predicted increased physical warmth, and participants who recalled a nostalgic (vs. ordinary autobiographical) event perceived ambient temperature as higher.”
- Reid and team (2015) learned that “Scent-evoked nostalgia predicted higher levels of positive affect, self-esteem . . . optimism, social connectedness and meaning in life.” In short: when study participants smelled scents that made them feel nostalgic, they were more likely to be in a good mood, have higher levels of self-esteem, feel more optimistic and more connected socially to others, and to believe that their lives were meaningful.
- Nostalgia counteracts loneliness. Including personally meaningful objects in a space can thus help boost mood and eliminate other negative mental states associated with loneliness (Zhou, Sedikides, Wildschut, and Gao, 2008). The Zhou lead team reports that while “Loneliness reduces perceptions of social support. . . . Nostalgia, in turn, increases perceptions of social support.” The researchers conclude that “The past, when appropriately harnessed, can strengthen psychological resistance to the vicissitudes of life.”
- Abeyta, Routledge, and Kaslon (2020) found that “Loneliness is difficult to overcome, in part because it is associated with negative social cognitions and social motivations. We argue that nostalgia, a positive emotional experience that involves reflecting on cherished memories, is a psychological resource that regulates these maladaptive intrapsychic tendencies associated with loneliness. . . . results provided support that nostalgia mitigates [lessens] reduced social confidence and low approach-oriented social goals/intentions associated with loneliness. . . . This weakening appeared to be due to nostalgia’s positive effect on social confidence and approach-oriented social goals/intentions, respectively, particularly at high levels of loneliness. . . . nostalgia increased intentions to engage in a social interaction when people were made to feel lonely. . . . feelings of nostalgia are associated with stronger social confidence.” Prior research, completed by Zhou and colleagues in 2008, and referenced by the Abeyta group, determined that nostalgia encourages impressions of social support. The Abeyta-lead team report that feelings of nostalgia can be generated via familiar scents or music, for instance.
- It seems there are some real benefits to thinking about nostalgic group events; those sentimental thoughts generally strengthen relationships among teammates. Wildschut and colleagues (2014) learned that individuals “who reflected on a nostalgic event they had experienced together with [other] group members . . . evaluated [their] group more positively and reported stronger intentions” to associate with group members than people who “recalled a nostalgic event they had experienced individually . . . those who reflected on a lucky event they had experienced together with . . . group members . . . and those who did not recall an event.” After people recall group nostalgic events they are more likely to actively support other group members. A nostalgic feeling was defined as “sentimental longing for the past.” We want to return to nostalgic situations. They can seem almost “mythical” and are more compelling than those we find merely fun or satisfying. These findings indicate the value of placing photos or other reminders of collective nostalgic events where teammates will encounter them regularly.
- Nostalgia has retail sales implications. Lasaleta, Sedikides, and Vohs (“The Nostalgia Effect: Do Consumers Spend More When Thinking About the Past?” 2014) have determined that we are “more likely to spend money when we’re feeling nostalgic. . . . [when we are] feeling a sense of nostalgia-evoked social connectedness.”
Andrew Abeyta, Clay Routledge, and Samuel Kaslon. 2020. “Combating Loneliness with Nostalgia: Nostalgic Feelings Attenuate Negative Thoughts and Motivations Associated with Loneliness.” Frontiers in Psychology, https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01219
Chelsea Reid, Jeffrey Green, Tim Wilschut, and Constantine Sekikides. 2015. “Scent-Evoked Nostalgia.” Memory, vol. 23, no. 2, pp. 157-166.
“The Nostalgia Effect: Do Consumers Spend More When Thinking About the Past?” 2014. Press release, The University of Chicago Press, http://www.journals.uchicago.edu.
Wijnand van Tilburg, Constantine Sedikides, and Tim Wilschut. 2015. “The Mnemonic Muse: Nostalgia Fosters Creativity Through Openness to Experience.” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, vol. 59, pp. 1-7.
Tim Wildschut, Martin Bruder, Sara Robertson, Wijnand van Tilburg, and Constantine Sedikides. 2014. “Collective Nostalgia: A Group-Level Emotion That Confers Unique Benefits on the Group.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 107, no. 5, pp. 844-863.
Xinyue Zhou, Constantine Sedikides, Tim Wildschut, and Ding-Guo Gao. 2008. “Counteracting Loneliness: On the Restorative Function of Nostalgia.” Psychological Science, vol. 19, no. 10, pp. 1023-1029.
Xinyue Zhou, Tim Wildschut, Constantine Sedikides, Xiaoxi Chen, and Ad Vingerhoets. 2012. “Heartwarming Memories: Nostalgia Maintains Physiological Comfort.” Emotion, vol. 12, no. 4, pp. 678-684.