The power of the past: nostalgia as a meaning-making resource

Routledge, Clay, Wildschut, Tim, Sedikides, Constantine, Juhl, Jacob and Arndt, Jamie (2012) The power of the past: nostalgia as a meaning-making resource Memory, 20, (5), pp. 452-460. (doi:10.1080/09658211.2012.677452). (PMID:22639901).


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In three experiments we tested whether nostalgia bolsters meaning in life relative to two other modes of autobiographical thought: imagining a desired future experience and recalling a positive past experience. In Experiment 1 participants thought about a nostalgic or desired future experience and then completed a presence of meaning scale. Thinking about a nostalgic (compared to desired future) experience increased perceived presence of meaning. In Experiment 2 we examined whether nostalgia can additionally reduce the search for meaning. Participants thought about a nostalgic, desired future or recent positive experience, and then completed a search for meaning scale. Nostalgia, relative to both comparison conditions, decreased the search for meaning. Finally we tested whether, by virtue of its capacity to increase meaning, nostalgia can mitigate threats to meaning. In Experiment 3 participants were exposed to either absurd or representational art, under the guise that they would later have to interpret its meaning, and then thought about either a nostalgic or a recent positive experience. Meaning was subsequently measured. The absurd art interpretation condition decreased the perceived presence of meaning but nostalgic reflection attenuated this effect

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1080/09658211.2012.677452
ISSNs: 0965-8211 (print)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Organisations: Psychology
ePrint ID: 341658
Date :
Date Event
28 May 2012e-pub ahead of print
Date Deposited: 01 Aug 2012 13:57
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2017 16:44
Further Information:Google Scholar

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