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Mental travel into the past: differentiating recollections of nostalgic, ordinary, and positive events

Mental travel into the past: differentiating recollections of nostalgic, ordinary, and positive events
Mental travel into the past: differentiating recollections of nostalgic, ordinary, and positive events
This research examined construal differences evoked by mental travel to nostalgic, ordinary, or positive autobiographical events. According to the Construal Level Theory, psychologically distant events are construed with abstract terms, proximal events with concrete terms. We argue that nostalgic recollections are characterized by a unique construal pattern. Nostalgia refers to unusual and meaningful memories that are preserved, if not idealized, across time. As such, nostalgic events involve psychological distance and will be construed with abstract terms. Secondarily, they will also be construed with concrete terms as they reflect relevance to the present or psychological proximity. Two experiments confirmed the hypotheses. The experiments compared narratives of nostalgic, ordinary, and positive recollections, as well as distance of pertinent events in time and location. Recollections of nostalgic (compared with ordinary) events included a greater number of abstract terms and higher-level construal while entailing concrete elements linking past to present. The experiments also identified unique consequences of nostalgic recollections in terms of affect, including a sense of authenticity.
0046-2772
290-298
Stephan, Elena
4d379020-be54-4a1c-848a-9b61923648d2
Sedikides, Constantine
9d45e66d-75bb-44de-87d7-21fd553812c2
Wildschut, Tim
4452a61d-1649-4c4a-bb1d-154ec446ff81
Stephan, Elena
4d379020-be54-4a1c-848a-9b61923648d2
Sedikides, Constantine
9d45e66d-75bb-44de-87d7-21fd553812c2
Wildschut, Tim
4452a61d-1649-4c4a-bb1d-154ec446ff81

Stephan, Elena, Sedikides, Constantine and Wildschut, Tim (2012) Mental travel into the past: differentiating recollections of nostalgic, ordinary, and positive events [in special issue: Mental time travel: social psychological perspectives on a fundamental human capacity] European Journal of Social Psychology, 42, (3), pp. 290-298.

Record type: Article

Abstract

This research examined construal differences evoked by mental travel to nostalgic, ordinary, or positive autobiographical events. According to the Construal Level Theory, psychologically distant events are construed with abstract terms, proximal events with concrete terms. We argue that nostalgic recollections are characterized by a unique construal pattern. Nostalgia refers to unusual and meaningful memories that are preserved, if not idealized, across time. As such, nostalgic events involve psychological distance and will be construed with abstract terms. Secondarily, they will also be construed with concrete terms as they reflect relevance to the present or psychological proximity. Two experiments confirmed the hypotheses. The experiments compared narratives of nostalgic, ordinary, and positive recollections, as well as distance of pertinent events in time and location. Recollections of nostalgic (compared with ordinary) events included a greater number of abstract terms and higher-level construal while entailing concrete elements linking past to present. The experiments also identified unique consequences of nostalgic recollections in terms of affect, including a sense of authenticity.

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Published date: April 2012

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 337227
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/337227
ISSN: 0046-2772
PURE UUID: e1e7eac6-63bb-4676-a288-253bfa515057

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Date deposited: 20 Apr 2012 10:42
Last modified: 30 Aug 2017 16:06

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Contributors

Author: Elena Stephan
Author: Tim Wildschut

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