Personality and Social Psychology
The online version of this article can be found at:
2013 39: 1484 originally published online 8 August 2013Pers Soc Psychol Bull
Wing-Yee Cheung, Tim Wildschut, Constantine Sedikides, Erica G. Hepper, Jamie Arndt and Ad J. J. M. Vingerhoets
Back to the Future: Nostalgia Increases Optimism
On behalf of:
Society for Personality and Social Psychology
can be found at:Personality and Social Psychology BulletinAdditional services and information for
What is This?
- Aug 8, 2013OnlineFirst Version of Record
- Oct 14, 2013Version of Record >>
at Society for Personality and Social Psychology on October 18, 2013psp.sagepub.comDownloaded from at Society for Personality and Social Psychology on October 18, 2013psp.sagepub.comDownloaded from at Society for Personality and Social Psychology on October 18, 2013psp.sagepub.comDownloaded from at Society for Personality and Social Psychology on October 18, 2013psp.sagepub.comDownloaded from at Society for Personality and Social Psychology on October 18, 2013psp.sagepub.comDownloaded from at Society for Personality and Social Psychology on October 18, 2013psp.sagepub.comDownloaded from at Society for Personality and Social Psychology on October 18, 2013psp.sagepub.comDownloaded from at Society for Personality and Social Psychology on October 18, 2013psp.sagepub.comDownloaded from at Society for Personality and Social Psychology on October 18, 2013psp.sagepub.comDownloaded from at Society for Personality and Social Psychology on October 18, 2013psp.sagepub.comDownloaded from at Society for Personality and Social Psychology on October 18, 2013psp.sagepub.comDownloaded from at Society for Personality and Social Psychology on October 18, 2013psp.sagepub.comDownloaded from at Society for Personality and Social Psychology on October 18, 2013psp.sagepub.comDownloaded from at Society for Personality and Social Psychology on October 18, 2013psp.sagepub.comDownloaded from
Personality and Social
39(11) 1484 –1496
© 2013 by the Society for Personality
and Social Psychology, Inc
Reprints and permissions:
The capacity for mental time travel is considered uniquely
human (Sedikides & Skowronski, 1997; Suddendorf &
Corballis, 2007). Recollection of the past, consideration of
the present, and projection onto the future are interdependent
cognitive processes with a shared neurological substrate
(Johnson & Sherman, 1990; Klein, Robertson, & Delton,
2010). Hence, if the present self derives positivity from one’s
past, as research shows is typically the case in nostalgic rev-
erie (Hepper, Ritchie, Sedikides, & Wildschut, 2012;
Sedikides, Wildschut, Arndt, & Routledge, 2008; Wildschut,
Sedikides, Arndt, & Routledge, 2006), this positivity could
stretch out in time and produce a brighter outlook on the
future. Stated otherwise, when individuals become nostalgic,
they may accordingly feel optimistic about their future. We
test this proposition while also examining mechanisms
through which nostalgia may elicit optimism.
Historical and Contemporary
Conceptions of Nostalgia
Nostalgia has historically been conceptualized as patho-
logical maladaptation to the present reality and as trepida-
tion of the future (Sedikides et al., 2008; Sedikides,
Wildschut, & Baden, 2004). In the 17th century, physician
Johannes Hofer (1688/1934) coined the term nostalgia to
describe physical and psychological symptoms among
Swiss mercenaries fighting away from home and for
assorted European monarchs. Since then, nostalgia has
been labeled a neurological disease (Scheuchzer, 1731) and
a psychological disorder (e.g., repressive compulsion, psy-
chosis; Sterba, 1940). The consensus was that nostalgic
individuals are preoccupied with bygone events or objects,
such that “their longing for the past matches their dislike of
the present and their dread of the future” (Castelnuovo-
Tedesco, 1980, p. 121). In nostalgia, “the past is lost. The
future can never be realized. All is empty. All is lost.”
(Kleiner, 1977, p. 472).
Nostalgia, then, was long considered a doomed state of
mind: an escapist reaction to the demands of the present and
an anxiety toward the future (Nawas & Platt, 1965). These
views began to fade in the late 20th century with the sugges-
tion that nostalgia may, to some extent, be a positive and use-
ful emotion (Davis, 1979), although robust opposition to this
XXX10.1177/0146167213499187Personality and Social Psychology BulletinCheung et al.
University of Southampton, UK
University of Surrey, UK
University of Missouri—Columbia, USA
Tilburg University, Netherlands
Wing-Yee Cheung, Centre for Research on Self and Identity, School of
Psychology, University of Southampton, Southampton SO17 1BJ, UK.
Back to the Future: Nostalgia Increases
, Tim Wildschut
, Constantine Sedikides
Erica G. Hepper
, Jamie Arndt
, and Ad J. J. M. Vingerhoets
This research examined the proposition that nostalgia is not simply a past-oriented emotion, but its scope extends into the
future, and, in particular, a positive future. We adopted a convergent validation approach, using multiple methods to assess
the relation between nostalgia and optimism. Study 1 tested whether nostalgic narratives entail traces of optimism; indeed,
nostalgic (compared with ordinary) narratives contained more expressions of optimism. Study 2 manipulated nostalgia
through the recollection of nostalgic (vs. ordinary) events, and showed that nostalgia boosts optimism. Study 3 demonstrated
that the effect of nostalgia (induced with nomothetically relevant songs) on optimism is mediated by self-esteem. Finally, Study
4 established that nostalgia (induced with idiographically relevant lyrics) fosters social connectedness, which subsequently
increases self-esteem, which then boosts optimism. The nostalgic experience is inherently optimistic and paints a subjectively
nostalgia, optimism, emotion, memory, self-esteem, social connectedness
Received December 5, 2012; revision accepted June 7, 2013
Cheung et al. 1485
suggestion remained the norm (for reviews, see Sedikides et
al., 2004; Sedikides, Wildschut, Arndt, & Routledge, 2006).
Recent empirical forays have paved the way toward reha-
bilitation of the construct of nostalgia. Laypersons indicate
that positive feelings (e.g., happiness, fondness) are more
prototypical of nostalgia than are negative feelings (e.g., sad-
ness, regret; Hepper, Ritchie, et al., 2012). Indeed, nostalgic
narratives may be bittersweet, but their positive affect (PA;
e.g., tenderness) far outweighs their negative affect (e.g.,
loss; Holak & Havlena, 1998; Stephan, Sedikides, &
Wildschut, 2012). In addition, content analyses on nostalgic
narratives reveal that nostalgia is a self-relevant emotion,
and that nostalgic memories entail interactions with valued
others in the context of momentous life occasions (Holak &
Havlena, 1992; Wildschut et al., 2006). Furthermore, nostal-
gic narratives are distinguishable from narratives of positive
or ordinary events: The linguistic representation of nostalgic
narratives involves the use of more meaning-ascribing
abstract terms, elicits a greater sense of authenticity, and
manifests a bittersweet affective signature (Stephan et al.,
2012). It follows that the experimental induction of nostalgia
may confer psychological benefits, and this is the case. For
example, nostalgia raises self-esteem (Hepper, Ritchie, et al.,
2012; Vess, Arndt, Routledge, Sedikides, & Wildschut, 2012;
Wildschut et al., 2006) and fosters social connectedness
(Wildschut et al., 2006; Wildschut, Sedikides, Routledge,
Arndt, & Cordaro, 2010; Zhou, Sedikides, Wildschut, &
Understanding Nostalgia in a Brand
New Light: The Future Orientation of
In all, nostalgia, a seemingly past-oriented emotion, renders
the present more positive. But does it also shed a positive
light on the future? To be exact, does it breed optimism?
The literature is mute on the topic. Yet, answers to these
questions can have theoretical and practical implications.
From a theoretical standpoint, answers may inform the nature
of nostalgia and the breadth of its psychological utility, as
well as provide a broader understanding of the implications
of the human capacity for temporal thought. From a practical
standpoint, answers may identify a critical antecedent of
optimism—a trait or state linked with enhancing well-being
and effective coping, and with dampening negative affect
and symptom reporting (Andersson, 1996; Carver, Scheier,
& Segerstrom, 2010; K. E. Hart & Hittner, 1995; Isaacowitz,
2005; Scheier & Carver, 1992). With the exception of a few
studies on genetic (vs. environmental) and developmental
influences on optimism (Ek, Remes, & Sovio, 2004; Gillham
& Reivich, 2004; Heinonen, Räikkönen, & Keltikangas-
Järvinen, 2005; Mosing, Zietsch, Shekar, Wright, & Martin,
2009; Scheier & Carver, 1993), research on trait, let alone
state, antecedents or causes of optimism is sparse.
Sociologist Fred Davis (1977) was the first to suggest that
nostalgia may promote a sunny outlook on the future. He
It (nostalgia) reassures us of past happiness and accomplishment;
and, since these still remain on deposit, as it were, in the bank of
our memory, it simultaneously bestows upon us a certain worth,
irrespective of how present circumstances may seem to question
or obscure this. And current worth, as our friendly bank loan
officer assures us, is titled to at least some claim on the future as
well. (p. 420)
Davis’s idea that nostalgia constitutes a deposit in the
bank of memory to be retrieved in the service of the future is
consistent with recent findings that individuals treasure nos-
talgic memories as a resource for maximizing future well-
being (Zauberman, Ratner, & Kim, 2009). The idea is also
consistent with other lines of inquiry.
First, recollection and future projection share cognitive
processes and neurological underpinnings. Clinical evidence
indicates that patients with difficulty in retrieving the past
also have problems imagining new experiences (Hassabis,
Kumaran, Vann, & Maguire, 2007; Klein, Loftus, &
Kihlstrom, 2002; Tulving, 1985) or describing their future in
detail (Addis, Sacchetti, Ally, Budson, & Schacter, 2009;
Brown, Dorfman, Marmar, & Bryant, 2012). Similarly, neu-
roimaging studies show that thinking about the past and the
future involves a common neural network (Buckner &
Carroll, 2007; Hassabis & Maguire, 2007; Schacter & Addis,
2007; Viard et al., 2011). The human mind, then, recruits
similar processes in formulating mental representations of
past and future events. It follows that, if nostalgic recollec-
tion activates past positivity, this positivity may be projected
onto the future.
Second, recollection and future projection are interdepen-
dent (Johnson & Sherman, 1990). Past experiences predict
optimism in judgment or decision making (Albarracin &
Wyer, 2000) and in interpersonal relationships (Carnelley &
Janoff-Bulman, 1992). Accordingly, nostalgic recollection of
fond memories may generate a buoyant outlook on the future.
How Would Nostalgia Elicit Optimism?
The Role of Self-Esteem and Social
What are the mechanisms through which nostalgia may elicit
optimism? Davis (1977), as quoted above, speculated that,
when nostalgic, individuals retrieve positivity accumulated
from the past to boost their current self-worth, thus feeling
upbeat about the future. In line with this speculation, we pro-
pose that self-esteem constitutes a key mechanism linking
nostalgia to optimism or through which nostalgia infuses
optimism. Individuals may use their recollections of the past
to raise their self-worth (Peetz & Wilson, 2008; Wilson &
Ross, 2003), and, as we mentioned previously, research has
1486 Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 39(11)
specifically established that nostalgia lifts self-esteem
(Hepper, Ritchie, et al., 2012; Wildschut et al., 2006).
Importantly, self-esteem is associated with optimism
(Chemers, Watson, & May, 2000; Mäkikangas & Kinnunen,
2003; Mäkikangas, Kinnunen, & Feldt, 2004) and shares a
genetic basis with it (Saphire-Bernsteina, Way, Kim,
Sherman, & Taylor, 2011). Nevertheless, self-esteem and
optimism are sufficiently distinct (Fontaine & Jones, 1997;
Scheier, Carver, & Bridges, 1994) to warrant treatment as
relatively independent resources.
But where does self-esteem originate? A commonality
among relevant theoretical statements (contingencies of self-
worth: Crocker & Wolfe, 2001; sociometer theory: Leary,
2005; terror-management theory: Pyszczynski, Greenberg,
Solomon, Arndt, & Schimel, 2004) is an emphasis on the
social or sociocultural bases of self-esteem. Self-esteem
originates in, or is greatly influenced by, relational and socio-
cultural processes. From the perspective of the current inves-
tigation, social connectedness may form a pivotal foundation
for self-esteem. As mentioned above, research has estab-
lished that nostalgia strengthens social connectedness
(Wildschut et al., 2006, 2010). For example, sociality (e.g.,
family, love) is a centrally prototypical feature of the con-
struct of nostalgia (Hepper, Ritchie, et al., 2012). In addition,
experimentally induced nostalgia prompts stronger perceived
affiliation with others (Zhou et al., 2008; Zhou, Wildschut,
Sedikides, Shi, & Feng, 2012). Social connectedness, in turn,
would augment self-esteem, which would boost optimism.
Indeed, preliminary evidence indicates that social support
can operate through self-esteem to influence optimism
(Symister & Friend, 2003). Of course, it is also possible that
social connectedness (having been induced through experi-
mental manipulations of nostalgia) directly incites an upsurge
in optimism, given that social connectedness (i.e., perceived
social support) is associated with or predicts optimism
(Brissette, Scheier, & Carver, 2002; MacLeod & Conway,
2005; Segerstrom, 2007). We test for these possibilities in the
We examine for the first time the future orientation of nostal-
gia and the possibility that nostalgia serves as a resource
through which individuals may generate optimism internally,
that is, with no reliance on accomplishments or external sig-
nals of social acceptance. We conducted four studies. In
Study 1, we tested whether nostalgia naturally incorporates
optimism, by counting the percentage of optimism-related
words in nostalgic narratives. The remaining three studies
featured experimental inductions of nostalgia. We adopted a
convergent validation approach (Campbell & Fiske, 1959) in
manipulating nostalgia via multiple methods. In Study 2, we
induced nostalgia via recollection of nostalgic (vs. ordinary
autobiographical) events, and asked whether nostalgia boosts
optimism. In Study 3, we manipulated nostalgia with a
nomothetically relevant nostalgic (vs. control) song. We
tested whether self-esteem mediates the relation between
nostalgia and optimism. Finally, in Study 4, we presented
idiographically relevant nostalgic (vs. control) lyrics. We
examined whether social connectedness (a) forms the basis
for self-esteem’s mediational role in the relation between
nostalgia and optimism, or (b) mediates directly the relation
between nostalgia and optimism.
Previous research has highlighted the strengths of word-
level linguistic analysis in uncovering psychological pro-
cesses within written texts (Rude, Gortner, & Pennebaker,
2004). We used this methodology to investigate, in Study 1,
whether nostalgic narratives contain more optimism-related
words (optimism expressions) than ordinary autobiographi-
We also sought to examine the role of PA in the relation
between nostalgia and optimism. The content of nostalgic
narratives is more positive than negative (Stephan et al.,
2012; Wildschut et al., 2006). In addition, nostalgia typically
(Hepper, Ritchie, et al., 2012; Stephan et al., 2012;
Verplanken, 2012; Wildschut et al., 2006, 2010; Zhou,
Wildschut, Sedikides, Shi, et al., 2012, Study 1) but not
always (Zhou, Wildschut, Sedikides, Shi, et al., 2012, Studies
2-4) increases PA. Although research has begun to establish
unique effects of nostalgia above and beyond PA (Routledge,
Wildschut, Sedikides, Juhl, & Arndt, 2012, Studies 2-3;
Stephan et al., 2012, Study 2), it is not clear whether nostal-
gia would entail optimism above and beyond PA.
Participants. One hundred and two University of Southamp-
ton undergraduates (92 women, 10 men) participated for
course credit. Participant age ranged from 18 to 38 years
(M = 20.09, SD = 2.87). We randomly assigned participants
to the nostalgia and control conditions. Given that the results
were not qualified by gender (with acknowledgment of the
small number of male participants), we omitted this variable
from subsequent analyses.
Procedure and materials. In the nostalgia condition, partici-
pants were instructed to “bring to mind a nostalgic event in
your life. Specifically, try to think of a past event that makes
you feel most nostalgic.” In the control condition, partici-
pants were instructed to “bring to mind an ordinary event in
your life.” Participants in both conditions took a few
moments to think about the event and how it made them
feel. They were then allotted 5 min to provide a written
account of the experience. Next, participants completed a
3-item nostalgia manipulation check (1 = strongly disagree,
6 = strongly agree): “Right now, I am feeling quite nostal-
gic,” “Right now, I am having nostalgic feelings,” “I feel
Cheung et al. 1487
nostalgic at the moment” (α = .97, M = 3.92, SD = 1.47).
The nostalgia induction and manipulation check have been
validated by prior research in the United Kingdom (Hepper,
Ritchie, et al., 2012; Stephan et al., 2012; Wildschut et al.,
2006) the United States (Routledge, Arndt, Sedikides, &
Wildschut, 2008; Routledge et al., 2011, 2012), and also in
China (Zhou et al., 2008; Zhou, Wildschut, Sedikides,
Chen, & Vingerhoets, 2012; Zhou, Wildschut, Sedikides,
Shi, et al., 2012).
Participant-generated narratives were transcribed by a
research assistant and analyzed with Linguistic Inquiry and
Word Count software (Pennebaker, Booth, & Francis, 2007).
LIWC works according to an internal dictionary of approxi-
mately 4,500 words, and calculates the relative frequency
(i.e., proportion) of different word categories. Participants
wrote an average of 117.74 words (SD = 39.61). Average
word counts in the nostalgia (M = 122.85, SD = 40.61) and
control (M = 112.20, SD = 38.13) conditions did not differ
significantly, F(1, 100) = 1.86, p = .18,
= .02. Across all
narratives, the LIWC dictionary was able to classify 77.06%
of words (SD = 6.40), a typical ratio in studies using LIWC
(for an overview, see Pennebaker & Graybeal, 2001). We
focused on the proportion of words that fell into the opti-
mism category. This category comprises 70 words express-
ing optimism (e.g., hope, optimistic, determined). We arrived
at the proportion of optimism expressions by dividing the
number of such words by the total word count for a given
Following the event description, participants completed
the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule questionnaire
(PANAS; Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988). All items were
preceded by the stem “Thinking about this event makes me
feel.” The PA measure comprised 10 items (1 = not at all; 5
= extremely): “interested,” “excited, ” “strong, ” “enthusias-
tic, ” “attentive, ” “active, ” “proud, ” “alert, ” “inspired, ”
“determined” (α = .92, M = 2.72, SD = 0.77). The NA mea-
sure consisted of 10 items: “scared,” “irritable,” “ashamed,”
“nervous,” “distressed,” “upset,” “guilty,” “hostile,” “jit-
tery,” “afraid” (α = .90, M = 1.31, SD = 0.48).
Results and Discussion
Manipulation check. As intended, participants in the nostalgia
condition (M = 4.79, SD = 1.04) reported feeling more nos-
talgic than those in the control condition (M = 2.98, SD =
1.29), F(1, 100) = 61.25, p = .001,
PANAS ratings. Participants in the nostalgia condition (M =
2.85, SD = 0.74) reported marginally more PA than those in
the control condition (M = 2.58, SD = 0.79), F(1, 100) = 3.30,
p = .07,
= .032. Participants in the nostalgia condition (M =
1.306 SD = 0.48) did not report more NA than those in the
control condition (M = 1.308 SD = 0.49), F(1, 100) = 0.001,
p = .98,
< .001. It is noteworthy that, even in the control
condition, PA (M = 2.58) exceeded NA (M = 1.31) by a
considerable margin, F(1, 48) = 78.92, p < .001,
= .62. It
is clearly not the case that nostalgic narratives included more
optimism expressions merely because participants in the
control condition recalled tedious or negative events. This
reinforces prior evidence that the control condition provides
an adequate and substantive baseline for assessing the effects
of nostalgia (Hepper, Ritchie, et al., 2012; Routledge et al.,
2008, 2011, 2012; Stephan et al., 2012; Vess et al., 2012;
Wildschut et al., 2006, 2010; Zhou et al., 2008; Zhou, Wild-
schut, Sedikides, Chen, et al., 2012; Zhou, Wildschut,
Sedikides, Shi, et al., 2012).
Optimism. Nostalgic narratives (M = 0.61%, SD = .78) con-
tained a significantly higher proportion of optimism expres-
sions than ordinary autobiographical narratives (M = 0.28%,
SD = .48), F(1, 100) = 6.57, p = .012,
= .06. The results
are consistent with the possibility that the experience of nos-
talgia entails optimism.
Mediational analyses. We tested whether PA mediated the
higher frequency of optimism expressions in nostalgic
(compared with ordinary) narratives. We used a bootstrap-
ping analysis (Hayes, 2012; model 4; 10,000 resamples) to
test the indirect effect of nostalgic (vs. ordinary) recollec-
tion on optimism expressions via PA. When PA was included
as a mediator, the direct effect of nostalgic (vs. ordinary)
recollection on optimism expressions remained significant,
= .17, SE = .066, t(99) = 2.518, p = .013. The indi-
rect effect via PA was not significant, M
SE = .014, 95% CI = [−.031, .027]. Overall, the more fre-
quent occurrence of optimism expressions in nostalgic (vs.
ordinary) narratives was independent of affective positivity
induced by event recollection.
The key objective of Study 2 was to corroborate and extend
the Study 1 findings by gauging the impact of nostalgia on
optimism. We experimentally induced nostalgia and assessed
optimism. In addition, we tested PA as a mechanism through
which nostalgia may increase optimism. We hypothesized
that nostalgic engagement would elicit higher optimism
compared with engagement in ordinary autobiographical
recollection, above and beyond PA.
Participants. One hundred twenty seven University of Mis-
souri—Columbia undergraduates (65 men, 62 women) took
part for course credit. Their ages ranged from 17 to 41 years
(M = 18.95, SD = 2.16). We randomly assigned participants
to the nostalgia and control conditions. We omitted gender
from the reported results, as preliminary analyses indicated
that this variable did not qualify the findings. Degrees of
freedom vary slightly due to missing values.
1488 Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 39(11)
Procedure and materials. The nostalgia manipulation and
manipulation check (α = .91, M = 3.55, SD = 1.38) were
identical to those of Study 1. Following the manipulation
check, participants completed measures of PA and optimism
(1 = strongly disagree; 5 = strongly agree), all preceded by
the stem “Thinking about this event makes me feel.” The PA
measure, which we constructed for the purposes of this study
(cf., Martin, Abend, Sedikides, & Green, 1997), comprised
four items: “puts me in a great mood,” “makes me feel good,”
“gives me positive feelings,” and “makes me feel great” (α =
.97, M = 3.72, SD = 1.16). Likewise, the optimism measure,
which we also constructed for the objectives of this study,
consisted of four items: “makes me feel ready to take on new
challenges,” “makes me feel optimistic about my future,”
“makes me feel like the sky is the limit,” and “gives me a
feeling of hope about my future” (α = .90, M = 3.45, SD =
Results and Discussion
Manipulation check. As intended, participants in the nostalgia
condition (M = 4.02, SD = 1.29) reported feeling more nos-
talgic than those in the control condition (M = 3.08, SD =
1.31), F(1, 122) = 16.12, p < .001,
PA. Participants in the nostalgia condition (M = 3.93, SD =
1.10) reported more PA than those in the control condition
(M = 3.51, SD = 1.20), F(1, 124) = 4.13, p = .044,
Optimism. As hypothesized, nostalgic participants (M =
3.67, SD = 0.88) expressed more optimism than control par-
ticipants (M = 3.24, SD = 0.96), F(1, 124) = 6.82, p = .010,
Mediational analyses. Participants in the nostalgia condition
reported more PA than those in the control condition. Thus,
PA qualifies as a potential mediator of nostalgia’s effect on
optimism. We used a bootstrapping analysis (Hayes, 2012;
Model 4; 10,000 resamples) to test the direct effect of nostal-
gia on optimism, and the indirect effect of nostalgia via PA.
The direct effect was significant: M
= .319, SE =
.158, t(123) = 2.014, p = .046. The indirect effect was also
= .110, SE = .071, 95% CI = [.010,
/.294]. Thus, nostalgia boosted optimism directly, and also
indirectly via increased PA. Such evidence extends prior
findings that have begun to establish unique effects of nostal-
gia above and beyond PA (Routledge et al., 2011; Stephan
et al., 2012; Turner, Wildschut, & Sedikides, 2012; Zhou,
Wildschut, Sedikides, Shi, et al., 2012).
To begin establishing convergent validity, we implemented
in Study 3 an alternative manipulation that capitalizes on
music’s capacity to evoke nostalgia (Barrett et al., 2010; C.
M. Hart et al., 2011; Routledge et al., 2011). Specifically, we
induced nostalgia by presenting participants with a nomo-
thetically relevant nostalgic song. We hypothesized that lis-
tening to a nostalgic (compared with a control) song would
elevate optimism. Furthermore, we relied on a relatively
large sample to examine the generality of this effect across
gender and age. More important, we tested the mediational
role of self-esteem while also taking into account the poten-
tial role of PA.
Six hundred and sixty four volunteers (345 women, 319
men) completed the study materials online after visiting the
website for “Top 2000,” a popular Dutch radio and television
program that is aired annually around Christmas. The “Top
2000” website displayed an invitation to participate in
research, and interested visitors could navigate to another
website with study materials. Data collection was completed
in December 2011 and January 2012. Participant age ranged
from 14 to 67 years (M = 36.58, SD = 13.18). Nine percent of
participants were aged 14 to 19 years; 29% were aged 20 to
29; 17% were aged 30 to 39; 22% were aged 40 to 49; 20%
were aged 50 to 59; and 2% were aged 60 and over. In addi-
tion, 97% of participants identified The Netherlands as their
country of birth.
We randomly assigned participants to listen either to a
nostalgic or control song. We presented songs via a media
player in participants’ Internet browser. The Dutch artist
Wim Sonneveld performed the songs. The nostalgic song
was titled “Het Dorp [The Village]” (released 1974), and the
control song was titled “Nikkelen Nelis [Nickeled Nelis]”
(released 1965). In a pretest (December 2010 to January
2011), 519 (284 women, 235 men) “Top 2000” listeners
rated (1 = not at all, 6 = very much) the extent to which these
songs produced nostalgia (“nostalgia” and “longing for the
past”) and PA (“happiness” and “positive mood”). Pretest
participants listened to both songs in counterbalanced order.
As intended, the nostalgic song (M = 4.27, SD = 1.48) pro-
duced more nostalgia than the control song (M = 3.05, SD =
1.54), F(1, 518) = 380.90, p < .001. In addition, the nostalgic
song (M = 3.15, SD = 1.36) did not produce more PA than the
control song (M = 3.06, SD = 1.29), F(1, 518) = 2.09, p = .15.
Assessment of variables. Due to strict space limitations on the
survey, we assessed all variables with brief, two-item mea-
sures (1 = not at all, 5 = very much).
Manipulation check. Participants rated the extent to which lis-
tening to the assigned song induced nostalgia (“nostalgia,”
“longing for the past”; r = .67, M = 3.03, SD = 1.29).
PA. Participants rated the extent to which listening to the
assigned song induced PA (“happy,” “positive mood”;
r = .76, M = 2.79, SD = 1.06).
Cheung et al. 1489
Self-esteem. Participants rated the extent to which listening
to the assigned song induced self-esteem (“feel good about
myself,” “satisfied with myself”; r = .90, M = 2.69,
SD = 1.11).
Optimism. Finally, participants rated the extent to which lis-
tening to the assigned song induced optimism (“optimistic
about the future,” “hopeful about the future”; r = .91, M =
2.71, SD = 1.19).
Results and Discussion
Manipulation check. As intended, participants who listened to
the nostalgic song (M = 3.44, SD = 1.26) reported higher levels
of nostalgia than those who listened to the control song (M =
2.58, SD = 1.17), F(1, 662) = 81.14, p < .001,
PA. In replication of the abovementioned pilot study, partici-
pants who listened to the nostalgic song (M = 2.86, SD =
1.05) did not report more PA than those who listened to the
control song (M = 2.72, SD = 1.07), F(1, 662) = 2.87, p =
Self-esteem. Replicating past findings (Hepper, Ritchie, et
al., 2012; Wildschut et al., 2006), participants in the nostal-
gia condition (M = 2.79, SD = 1.07) reported higher self-
esteem than those in the control condition (M = 2.58, SD =
1.16), F(1, 662) = 5.77, p = .02,
Optimism. As hypothesized, participants who listened to the
nostalgic song reported higher optimism (M = 2.92, SD =
1.15) than those who listened to the control song (M = 2.48,
SD = 1.20), F(1, 662) = 23.69, p < .001,
Generality of nostalgia’s effect on optimism. The balanced gen-
der composition and wide age range within our sample
enabled a strong test of the generality of nostalgia’s effect on
optimism. We conducted a Nostalgia × Gender × Age
ANCOVA, with age treated as a continuous predictor (i.e.,
covariate, Tabachnick & Fidell, 2007) and with optimism as
the dependent variable. We centered participant age prior to
the analyses. We present results in Table 1. The nostalgia and
age main effects were significant, indicating that optimism
was higher among participants who listened to the nostalgic
(compared with the control) song and who were older (com-
pared with younger; B
= .012, SE = .003). The Nos-
talgia × Age interaction was not significant, suggesting that
the effect of nostalgia on optimism was independent of age.
The Nostalgia × Gender interaction was significant. Tests of
simple effects showed that, for men, there was a large and
statistically significant nostalgia effect, F(1, 656) = 22.85, p
= .03; for women, the nostalgia effect was smaller
but also statistically significant, F(1, 656) = 4.43, p = .036,
= .01. To conclude, the effect of nostalgia on optimism
generalized across age and gender.
Mediational analyses. Self-esteem qualified as a potential
mediator of nostalgia’s effect on optimism, but PA did not.
Regardless, and for data-analytic continuity purposes, we
included self-esteem and PA as parallel mediators in a boot-
strapping analysis (Hayes, 2012; model 4; 10,000 resam-
ples). The direct effect of nostalgia on optimism was
= .14, SE = .03, t(660) = 4.596, p <
.001. The indirect effect of nostalgia on optimism via self-
esteem was also significant, M
= .06, SE = .03, 95%
CI = [.01, .12]. However, and as expected, the indirect effect
of nostalgia on optimism via PA was not significant, M
= .02, SE = .01, 95% CI = [−.002, .04]. Nostalgia boosted
optimism directly, and also indirectly via increased self-
esteem, but not via PA.
To further establish convergent validity, we implemented in
Study 4 an additional music-based, idiographic manipulation
of nostalgia (Routledge et al., 2011). We induced nostalgia
by presenting participants with lyrics to songs that they had
previously identified as nostalgic (compared with control
lyrics). We hypothesized that reading nostalgic (compared
with control) song lyrics would raise optimism. In addition,
we examined the role of social connectedness and self-
esteem. Does nostalgia exert an indirect effect on optimism
via social connectedness and self-esteem? Specifically, does
nostalgia imbue individuals with a sense of social connected-
ness, which in turn lifts self-esteem? We tested whether this
sequential path constitutes a basis for nostalgia’s effect on
optimism. We hypothesized that the indirect effect of social
connectedness and self-esteem would explain the rise in
optimism, above and beyond PA.
Participants. Participants were 127 University of Southamp-
ton undergraduates fulfilling a course requirement. Due to
technical problems, we were able to record gender and age only
for 84 individuals (69 women, 15 men). For this group, partici-
pant age ranged from 18 to 42 years (M = 19.38, SD = 3.42).
Table 1. Tests of Main Effects and Interactions Among
Nostalgia, Gender, and Age in Study 3.
Effect F(1, 656) p
Nostalgia 24.02 <.001 .04
Gender 0.00 .944 .00
Age 12.79 <.001 .02
Nostalgia × Gender 3.91 .048 .01
Nostalgia × Age 0.06 .800 .00
Gender × Age 0.02 .888 .00
Nostalgia × Gender × Age 0.01 .939 .00
1490 Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 39(11)
Among participants with identifiable gender information, the
results were not qualified by gender, and so we omitted this
variable from subsequent analyses.
Procedure and materials. The study involved a preliminary
and an experimental session separated by 3 weeks. In the
preliminary session, participants received a dictionary defi-
nition of nostalgia (“A sentimental longing or wistful affec-
tion for the past”; The New Oxford Dictionary of English,
1998, p. 1266) and then listed the titles and performing art-
ists of three songs that made them feel nostalgic. Prior to
the experimental session, we randomly allocated partici-
pants to conditions. For participants in the nostalgia condi-
tion, we retrieved the lyrics of a song that they listed as
nostalgic. We yoked participants in the control condition to
a participant in the nostalgia condition and designated them
to receive the same lyrics as that person. (We ascertained
that the relevant song was not one that the control partici-
pant also considered nostalgic.) In this way, we were able to
use the same set of lyrics in the nostalgia and control condi-
tions, and thus hold constant the content of the lyrics in
both conditions (Routledge et al., 2011). During the experi-
mental session, participants read the prepared lyrics (nos-
talgic or control) and then completed the manipulation
check and measures.
Manipulation check. The manipulation check was identical to
that of Studies 1 and 2 (1 = strongly disagree, 6 = strongly
agree; α = .98, M = 3.74, SD = 1.47).
PA. We assessed PA with two items. Participants rated the
extent to which reading the lyrics made them feel: “happy”
and “in a good mood” (1 = strongly disagree, 6 = strongly
agree; r = .90, M = 3.99, SD = 1.32).
Self-esteem. We assessed self-esteem with four items (Hep-
per, Ritchie, et al., 2012; Wildschut et al., 2006). Participants
rated the extent to which reading the lyrics made them feel:
“good about myself,” “I like myself better,” “I like myself
more,” and “I have many positive qualities” (1 = strongly
disagree, 6 = strongly agree; α = .90, M = 3.28, SD = 1.09).
Social connectedness. We assessed social connectedness with
four items (Hepper, Ritchie, et al., 2012; Wildschut et al.,
2006). Participants rated the extent to which reading the lyr-
ics made them feel: “connected to loved ones,” “protected,”
“loved,” and “trust others” (1 = strongly disagree, 6 =
strongly agree; α = .91, M = 3.58, SD = 1.28).
Optimism. We assessed optimism with the Revised Life Ori-
entation Test (LOT-R; Scheier et al., 1994). The LOT-R com-
prises six items (plus four fillers) that assess optimism in
terms of having positive, and not negative, expectancies for
the future (e.g., “In uncertain times, I usually expect the
best,” “If something can go wrong for me, it will”
[reverse-scored]; 1 = strongly disagree, 5 = strongly agree;
α = .85, M = 3.39, SD = .81).
Results and Discussion
Manipulation check. As intended, participants who read per-
sonally nostalgic lyrics (M = 4.55, SD = 0.93) reported feel-
ing more nostalgic than those who read control lyrics (M =
2.86, SD = 1.45), F(1, 125) = 61.45, p < .001,
PA. Participants who read personally nostalgic lyrics (M =
4.44, SD = 1.22) reported higher levels of PA than those who
read control lyrics (M = 3.51, SD = 1.27), F(1, 125) = 17.76,
p < .001,
Social connectedness. Participants who read personally nos-
talgic lyrics (M = 4.07, SD = 1.16) reported higher levels of
social connectedness than those who read control lyrics (M =
3.04, SD = 1.20), F(1, 125) = 24.28, p < .001,
Self-esteem. Participants who read personally nostalgic lyr-
ics (M = 3.64, SD = 1.07) reported higher levels of self-
esteem than those who read control lyrics (M = 2.89, SD =
0.98), F(1, 125) = 16.61, p < .001,
Optimism. Consistent with the hypothesis, participants who
read personally nostalgic lyrics (M = 3.55, SD = 0.88)
reported higher levels of optimism than those who read con-
trol lyrics (M = 3.21, SD = 0.70), F(1, 125) = 5.67, p = .02,
Mediational analyses. We carried out the analyses using
AMOS within SPSS for Windows. We calculated bias-cor-
rected 95% bootstrap confidence intervals (CIs) and boot-
strap standard errors for direct and indirect effects (10,000
bootstrap samples). We present tests of direct and indirect
effects in Table 2. All but two direct effects (i.e., paths in
Figure 1) were significant. Nostalgia increased social con-
nectedness (path a) and self-esteem (above and beyond social
connectedness; path b), but it did not directly increase opti-
mism (above and beyond social connectedness and self-
esteem; path c). Social connectedness predicted increased
self-esteem (above and beyond nostalgia; path d), but it did
not directly predict increased optimism (above and beyond
nostalgia and self-esteem; path e). Finally, self-esteem pre-
dicted increased optimism (above and beyond nostalgia and
social connectedness; path f).
In addition to these direct effects, all but one indirect effects
in Figure 1 were significant. Consistent with the possibility
that nostalgia-induced social connectedness constitutes a basis
for self-esteem, the link between nostalgia and self-esteem
was mediated by social connectedness (Path a × Path d).
Regarding the link between nostalgia and optimism, there was
a significant total indirect effect of nostalgia on optimism via
social connectedness and self-esteem. We partitioned this total
Cheung et al. 1491
indirect effect into a nonsignificant indirect effect via social
connectedness (a × e) and a significant indirect effect via self-
esteem. In turn, we partitioned the indirect effect via self-
esteem into a significant indirect effect that was independent
of social connectedness (b × f) and a significant indirect effect
that was mediated by social connectedness (a × d × f). The lat-
ter indirect effect (a × d × f) provides evidence for an extended
causal sequence leading from nostalgia to social connected-
ness to self-esteem to optimism.
Model fit and alternative models. To assess model fit, we
trimmed the nonsignificant direct path from nostalgia to
optimism and then calculated fit indices for the resultant
nonsaturated model (Figure 1, minus path c). This model
provided good fit: χ
(1, N = 127) = 1.51, p = .22, Standard-
ized Root Mean Square Residual (SRMSR) = .03, root mean
square error approximation (RMSEA) = .06, Comparative
Fit Index (CFI) = .99. We also tested alternative models,
exploring (a) the position of optimism in the postulated
causal sequence and (b) the order of social connectedness
and self-esteem (i.e., the postulated mediators). We first
explored the position of optimism. Given that nostalgia was
manipulated, optimism cannot precede nostalgia. However,
optimism can precede social connectedness and/or self-
esteem. Hence, we tested an alternative model in which opti-
mism preceded social connectedness and self-esteem. This
model was analogous to the original model (Figure 1, minus
path c) but with optimism in the place of social connected-
ness, social connectedness in the place of self-esteem, and
self-esteem in the place of optimism. This model provided
marginal fit (most fit indices were adequate but RMSEA
exceeded the .10 threshold that is often used as a cut-off for
poor fitting models): χ
(1, N = 127) = 2.44, p = .12, SRMSR =
.03, RMSEA = .11, CFI = .98. Within a set of models for the
same data, the Akaike Information Criterion (AIC; Akaike,
1974) can be used to compare competing models that need
not be nested (smaller is better). For the alternative model,
AIC = 28.44. By comparison, for the original model, AIC =
27.51. The fit statistics for this first alternative model are
identical to those for a second alternative model, in which
optimism follows social connectedness but precedes self-
esteem. The reason for this is that the two alternative models
differ only in the direction of the link between social con-
nectedness and optimism, but are otherwise identical. Any
two models that have the same paths between the same vari-
ables will have the same fit, even if some paths are in a dif-
ferent direction. In all, these results indicate that the original
model is preferable to alternative models in which optimism
precedes social connectedness and/or self-esteem.
Next, we tested a third alternative model, in which the
order of social connectedness and self-esteem (i.e., the medi-
ators) was reversed. This third alternative model differs from
the original model (Figure 1, minus Path c) only in the
direction of the link between social connectedness and
Table 2. Tests of Direct and Indirect Effects in the Mediational Model of Study 4.
Effect Figure 1 path Coeff. SE 95% CI
Nostalgia Social connectedness a .515** .104 [.301, .719]
Nostalgia Self-esteem b .192* .091 [.012, .372]
Nostalgia Optimism c .091 .074 [−.046, .253]
Social connectedness Self-esteem d .348** .071 [.197, .494]
Social connectedness Optimism e −.047 .062 [−.171, .073]
Self-esteem Optimism f .274** .071 [.132, .412]
Indirect effect: Nostalgia Self-esteem
Via social connectedness a × d .180* .052 [.093, .296]
Indirect effect: Nostalgia Optimism
Total .077* .041 [.006, .164]
Via social connectedness a × e −.024 .033 [−.093, .040]
Via self-esteem .102* .037 [.043, .187]
Independent of social connectedness b × f .053* .030 [.009, .129]
Mediated by social connectedness a × d × f .049** .019 [.020, .101]
Note. Coeff. = unstandardized path coefficient; 95% CI = 95% bootstrap confidence interval; N = 127.
*p < .05. **p < .001.
Figure 1. Mediational model tested in Study 4.
1492 Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 39(11)
self-esteem. Accordingly, the models have identical fit.
However, in this alternative model, social connectedness (the
proximal predictor of optimism) did not predict optimism
above and beyond nostalgia and self-esteem. We therefore
retained the original model, in which social connectedness
Testing the mediational role of PA. Finally, we again explored
the possible mediational role of PA. Specifically, we tested
the Figure 1 model with PA as an additional mediator (Figure
1, plus a path from nostalgia to optimism via PA). This analy-
sis revealed that the indirect effect of nostalgia on optimism
via PA was not significant, M
= −.029, SE = .036,
95% CI = [−.110, .036]. Furthermore, the vital extended path
from nostalgia to optimism via social connectedness and
self-esteem (a × d × f) remained significant, M
.058, SE = .025, 95% CI = [.023, .123]. In all, we obtained
support for a model in which the effect of nostalgia is medi-
ated by social connectedness and concomitant self-esteem,
above and beyond PA.
Nostalgia’s referent is the past, but its psychological scope
may extend into the future. This is an important issue, given
the prevalence of nostalgic reverie and the potent influence of
optimism on psychological well-being. Prior work, for exam-
ple, reveals that nostalgia is experienced across cultures
(Hepper et al., 2013) and approximately three times a week
(Wildschut et al., 2006). Yet prior research has not considered
the future orientation of nostalgia, and, more specifically, the
relation between nostalgia and optimism. Are there any indi-
cations that nostalgic accounts contain traces of optimism?
Does nostalgic reverie engender optimism? If so, how?
Summary and Implications of the Findings
An initial foray into these issues, Study 1, demonstrated that
nostalgic (compared with ordinary autobiographical) narra-
tives do entail optimism, and, in particular, optimism expres-
sions. Notably, expressions of optimism in the nostalgic
narratives occurred above and beyond ratings of PA. Whereas
the strength of Study 1 allowed a naturalistic glimpse into
displays of optimism in nostalgia writings, this feature also
constitutes the study’s chief weakness. The study may have
contributed a foundational step in understanding the relation
between nostalgia and optimism, but it does not permit
causal inferences about nostalgia’s capacity to elicit opti-
mism. Therefore, the next three studies adopted multiple
converging experimental inductions of nostalgia and assessed
their effects on optimism.
Study 2 offered evidence of a causal link by illustrating
that experimentally induced nostalgia augments optimism.
Study 2 also measured PA and found that the nostalgia-
induced augmentation of optimism occurred above and
beyond PA. This finding helps to address concerns that it
may simply be positive mood stemming from nostalgic (vs.
ordinary) events that drives the effect of nostalgia on opti-
mism. Such concerns were also allayed by Studies 3 and 4.
Study 3 replicated the Study 2 findings using exposure to
nomothetically relevant nostalgic versus control songs, a
validated technique (Sedikides et al., 2013). Moreover, Study
3 illustrated the mediational role of self-esteem: nostalgia
raises self-esteem, which in turn heightens optimism. Such
findings build on prior work showing that memories of one’s
past can help to maintain current feelings of self-worth (Peetz
& Wilson, 2008; Wilson & Ross, 2003), but extend these
insights into demonstrate that the current feelings of self-
worth that nostalgia elicits can then contribute to a brighter
forecast of the future. In all, Study 3 showcased a distinct
pathway through which the past bolsters the present, which
then brightens the future.
Study 4 helped to clarify further these processes using
exposure to idiographically nostalgic (vs. control) music lyr-
ics, also a validated technique (Routledge et al., 2011). This
study established an extended causal sequence that affirmed
the status of social connectedness as a basis for self-esteem.
Nostalgia fostered social connectedness, which subsequently
lifted self-esteem, which then heightened optimism. Put oth-
erwise, the self-esteem lift that participants experienced
stemmed from an enhanced sense of social connectedness
that was derived from nostalgic reverie; this self-esteem lift,
in turns, raised optimism.
Limitations and Broader Considerations
As mentioned above, every nostalgia induction technique we
used has been validated (Hepper, Ritchie, et al., 2012;
Routledge et al., 2011; Sedikides et al., 2013; Wildschut et
al., 2006). Nevertheless, taken alone, the techniques have
their weaknesses and may invite alternative interpretation of
the findings. For example, in Studies 1 and 2, the nostalgic
and ordinary autobiographical narratives may differ beyond
the nostalgic qualities we targeted, and may be confounded
by other content-specific elements of the narratives. Similar
issues may apply to the nostalgic and control songs in Study
3. Such possible confounds, however, are countered by our
convergent operations approach (Campbell & Fiske, 1959).
This multimethod approach yielded consistent evidence that
nostalgia entails and engenders optimism. Finally, in all four
studies, nostalgia increased optimism above and beyond PA.
Such evidence extends prior research that has begun to estab-
lish unique effects of nostalgia, independent of PA (Routledge
et al., 2012; Stephan et al., 2012; Turner et al., 2012; Turner,
Wildschut, Sedikides, & Gheorghiu, 2013; Zhou, Wildschut,
Sedikides, Chen, et al., 2012; Zhou, Wildschut, Sedikides,
Shi, et al., 2012).
Given our focus on global optimism, one might wonder
whether the findings generalize to specific domains. We
anticipate that nostalgia will also infuse optimism on concrete
Cheung et al. 1493
behavioral domains. To begin with, global optimism is a good
proxy of specific, optimism-related behavior (Anderson &
Galinsky, 2006). Moreover, nostalgic reverie strengthens
intentions to donate time or money to charity (Merchant,
Ford, & Rose, 2011; Zhou, Wildschut, Sedikides, Shi, et al.,
2012), promotes tangible monetary donations (Zhou,
Wildschut, Sedikides, Shi, et al., 2012), and solidifies the pro-
clivity to interact with members of an outgroup (Turner et al.,
2012, Turner et al., 2013). Regardless, future studies would
do well to examine whether nostalgia prompts optimism in
specific domains and also whether it propels relevant action.
Nostalgia boosts a sense of attachment security and per-
ceptions of one’s interpersonal competence (Wildschut et al.,
2006, 2010), while relational competence increases opti-
mism for relationships (Carnelley & Janoff-Bulman, 1992).
As such, nostalgic engagement—through optimism—might
contribute to supportive and commitment-focused behaviors
in close relationships (Hepper, Wildschut, & Sedikides,
2012). Given that social connectedness was the mechanism
by which nostalgia raised self-esteem and thereby optimism,
the inherent sociality of nostalgia might also explain opti-
mism and goal-directed behavior in other domains. That is,
nostalgia might act as a source of felt security, which, accord-
ing to attachment theory, allows individuals to form positive
expectations, explore their environment confidently and
energetically, and approach novel experiences (Carnelley &
Ruscher, 2000; Luke, Sedikides, & Carnelley, 2012).
Optimism confers well-being and health benefits (Carver
et al., 2010; K. E. Hart & Hittner, 1995). Nostalgia, then,
may be one route toward well-being, motivating healthy
behaviors and even relationship success. Furthermore, given
evidence that nostalgic memories are often recruited in times
of loneliness, sadness, boredom, or existential doubt
(Routledge et al., 2008; van Tilburg, Igou, & Sedikides,
2013; Wildschut et al., 2006; Zhou et al., 2008), our findings
imply that nostalgia, by promoting optimism, could help
individuals cope with psychological adversity in a more
engaged, less avoidant, and ultimately healthier manner.
Nostalgia can be used, not only to infuse, but also to
maintain, optimism. Individuals may be optimistic in the ini-
tial stages of task involvement, but they typically become
less optimistic as the point of feedback pertaining to task out-
comes draws nearer (Sweeny & Krizan, 2013). Nostalgia
may counter these temporal declines in optimism and renew
the strength of goal pursuit. By so doing, nostalgia could
facilitate improvement, if not success (Sedikides & Hepper,
2009), at least in cases where pessimism is unwarranted or
maladaptive. Of course, for certain individuals, nostalgia
may have undesirable consequences, and this is a pressing
topic for future research. Depressed persons, for example,
may nostalgically reflect on their past in a way that discon-
nects it from present or future prospects, and they may even
use such reflection to justify a pessimistic outlook (Iyer &
Jetten, 2011; Verplanken, 2012). Yet, given the nature and
consistency of the present findings, any such exceptions are
overshadowed by nostalgia’s capacity to facilitate percep-
tions of a more positive future.
Finally, our findings offer another example of connectiv-
ity between temporal projections. They suggest that the com-
mon neural network involved in past and future
representations (Brown et al., 2012; Viard et al., 2011) is
applied to representations of the self and self-relevant events.
Nostalgia may constitute a catalyst for linking one’s personal
past, present, and future, thus providing a sense of self-con-
tinuity (Sedikides et al., 2008, 2013).
The current research established that nostalgia promotes
optimism. This pattern held regardless of the way in which
nostalgia was induced, for women and men, across age
groups, and in three cultures (American, English, Dutch).
The optimistic flame ignited by nostalgia is fuelled by
increases in self-esteem, which is founded on social connect-
edness. Nostalgia is not just an old, sepia-toned photo, locked
in a box. Its power is far-reaching and can brighten up the
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect
to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.
The author(s) received no financial support for the research, author-
ship, and/or publication of this article.
Addis, D. R., Sacchetti, D. C., Ally, B. A., Budson, A. E., &
Schacter, D. L. (2009). Episodic simulation of future events is
impaired in mild Alzheimer’s disease. Neuropsychologia, 47,
Akaike, H. (1974). A new look at the statistical model identifica-
tion. IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control, 19, 716-723.
Albarracin, D., & Wyer, R. S. (2000). The cognitive impact on past
behavior: Influences on beliefs, attitudes and future behavioral
decisions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79,
Anderson, C., & Galinsky, A. D. (2006). Power, optimism, and
risk-taking. European Journal of Social Psychology, 36, 511-
Andersson, G. (1996). The benefits of optimism: A meta-analytic
review of the Life Orientation Test. Personality and Individual
Differences, 21, 719-725. doi:10.1016/0191-8869(96)00118-3
Barrett, F. S., Grimm, K. J. S., Robins, R. W., Wildschut, T.,
Sedikides, C., & Janata, P. (2010). Music-evoked nostal-
gia: Affect, memory, and personality. Emotion, 10, 390-403.
Brissette, I., Scheier, M. F., & Carver, C. S. (2002). The role of opti-
mism in social network development, coping, and psychologi-
cal adjustment during a life transition. Journal of Personality
1494 Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 39(11)
and Social Psychology, 82, 102-111. doi:10.1037//0022-
Brown, A. D., Dorfman, M. L., Marmar, C. R., & Bryant, R. A.
(2012). The impact of perceived self-efficacy on mental
time travel and social problem solving. Consciousness and
Cognition, 21, 299-306. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2011.09.023
Buckner, R. L., & Carroll, D. C. (2007). Self-projection and the
brain. Trends in Cognitive Science, 11, 49-57. doi:10.1016/
Campbell, D. T., & Fiske, D. W. (1959). Convergent and dis-
criminant validation by the multitrait-multimethod matrix.
Psychological Bulletin, 56, 81-105.
Carnelley, K. B., & Janoff-Bulman, R. (1992). Optimism about love
relationships: General vs specific lessons from one’s personal
experiences. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 9,
Carnelley, K. B., & Ruscher, J. B. (2000). Adult attachment and
exploratory behavior in leisure. Journal of Social Behavior and
Personality, 15, 153-165.
Carver, C., Scheier, M. F., & Segerstrom, S. (2010). Optimism.
Clinical Psychology Review, 30, 879-889. doi:10.1016/j.
Castelnuovo-Tedesco, P. (1980). Reminiscence and nostalgia: The
pleasure and pain of remembering. In S. I. Greenspan & G.
H. Pollack (Eds.), The course of life: Psychoanalytic contribu-
tions toward understanding personality development. Vol. III:
Adulthood and the aging process (pp. 104-118). Washington,
DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
Chemers, M. M., Watson, C. B., & May, S. T. (2000). Dispositional
affect and leadership effectiveness: A comparison of self-esteem,
optimism, and efficacy. Personality and Social Psychology
Bulletin, 26, 267-277. doi:10.1177/0146167200265001
Crocker, J., & Wolfe, C. T. (2001). Contingencies of self-worth.
Psychological Review, 108, 593-623. doi:10.1037//0033-
Davis, F. (1977). Nostalgia, identity, and the current nostalgia
wave. Journal of Popular Culture, 11, 414-425. doi:10.1111/
Davis, F. (1979). Yearning for yesterday: A sociology of nostalgia.
New York, NY: Free Press.
Ek, E., Remes, J., & Sovio, U. (2004). Social and develop-
mental predictors of optimism from infancy to early adult-
hood. Social Indicators Research, 69, 219-242. doi:10.1023/
Fontaine, K. R., & Jones, L. C. (1997). Self-esteem, optimism, and
postpartum depression. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 53,
Gillham, J., & Reivich, K. (2004). Cultivating optimism in child-
hood and adolescence. ANNALS of the American Academy
of Political and Social Science, 591, 146-163. doi:10.1177/
Hart, C. M., Sedikides, C., Wildschut, T., Arndt, J., Routledge, C.,
& Vingerhoets, A. J. J. M. (2011). Nostalgic recollections of
high and low narcissists. Journal of Research in Personality,
45, 238-242. doi:10.1016/j.jrp.2011.01.002
Hart, K. E., & Hittner, J. B. (1995). Optimism and pessimism:
Associations to coping and anger-reactivity. Personality and
Individual Differences, 19, 827-839. doi:10.1016/S0191-
Hassabis, D., Kumaran, D., Vann, S. D., & Maguire, E. A. (2007).
Patients with hippocampal amnesia cannot imagine new expe-
riences. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of
the United States of America, 104, 1726-1731. doi:10.1073/
Hassabis, D., & Maguire, E. A. (2007). Deconstructing episodic
memory with construction. Trends in Cognitive Science, 11,
Hayes, A. F. (2012). PROCESS: A versatile computational tool
for observed variable mediation, moderation, and conditional
process modeling [White paper]. Retrieved from http://www.
Heinonen, K., Räikkönen, K., & Keltikangas-Järvinen, L. (2005).
Dispositional optimism: Development over 21 years from
the perspectives of perceived temperament and mother-
ing. Personality and Individual Differences, 38, 425-435.
Hepper, E. G., Ritchie, T. D., Sedikides, C., & Wildschut, T.
(2012). Odyssey’s end: Lay conceptions of nostalgia reflect its
original Homeric meaning. Emotion, 12, 102-119. doi:10.1037/
Hepper, E. G., Wildschut, T., & Sedikides, C. (2012, July). Down
memory lane together: Nostalgic interactions in close rela-
tionships. Poster presented at the International Association of
Relationship Research Conference, Chicago, IL.
Hepper, E. G., Wildschut, T., Sedikides, C., Ritchie, T. D., Yung,
Y.-F., Hansen, N., & Zhou, X. (2013). Pancultural nostalgia:
Prototypical conceptions across cultures. Unpublished manu-
script, University of Surrey, UK.
Hofer, J. (1934). Medical dissertation on nostalgia (C. K. Anspach,
Trans.). Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 2, 376-391.
(Original work published 1688)
Holak, S. L., & Havlena, W. J. (1992). Nostalgia: An exploratory
study of themes and emotions in the nostalgic experience.
Advances in Consumer Research, 19, 380-386.
Holak, S. L., & Havlena, W. J. (1998). Feelings, fantasies, and mem-
ories: An examination of the emotional components of nostal-
gia. Journal of Business Research, 42, 217-226. doi:10.1016/
Isaacowitz, D. M. (2005). Correlates of well-being in adulthood
and old age: A tale of two optimisms. Journal of Research in
Personality, 39, 224-244. doi:10.1016/j.jrp.2004.02.003
Iyer, A., & Jetten, J. (2011). What’s left behind: Identity continu-
ity moderates the effect of nostalgia on well-being and life
choices. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101,
Johnson, M. R., & Sherman, S. J. (1990). Constructing and recon-
structing the past and future in the present. In E. T. Higgins
& R. M. Sorrentino (Eds.), Handbook of motivation and cog-
nition: Foundations of social behavior (Vol. 2, pp. 482-526).
New York, NY: Guilford.
Klein, S. B., Loftus, J., & Kihlstrom, J. (2002). Memory and tem-
poral experience. The effects of episodic memory loss on
an amnesic patient’s ability to remember the past and imag-
ine the future. Social Cognition, 20, 353-379. doi:10.1521/
Klein, S. B., Robertson, T. E., & Delton, A. W. (2010). Facing
the future: Memory as an evolved system for planning
future acts. Memory and Cognition, 38, 13-22. doi:10.3758/
Cheung et al. 1495
Kleiner, J. (1977). On nostalgia. In C. W. Socarides (Ed.), The
world of emotions (pp. 471-498). New York, NY: International
Leary, M. R. (2005). Sociometer theory and the pursuit of relational
value: Getting to the root of self-esteem. European Review of
Social Psychology, 16, 75-111. doi:10.1080/10463280540000007
Luke, M., Sedikides, C. A., & Carnelley, K. B. (2012). Your love
lifts me higher! The energizing quality of secure relationships.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 38, 721-733.
MacLeod, A. K., & Conway, C. (2005). Well-being and the antici-
pation of future positive experiences: The role of income,
social networks, and planning ability. Cognition & Emotion,
19, 357-374. doi:10.1080/02699930441000247
Mäkikangas, A., & Kinnunen, U. (2003). Psychosocial work stress-
ors and well-being: Self-esteem and optimism as moderators
in a one-year longitudinal sample. Personality and Individual
Differences, 35, 537-557. doi:10.1016/S0191-8869(02)00217-9
Mäkikangas, A., Kinnunen, U., & Feldt, T. (2004). Self-esteem,
dispositional optimism, and health: Evidence from cross-
lagged data on employees. Journal of Research in Personality,
38, 556-575. doi:10.1016/j.jrp.2004.02.001
Martin, L. L., Abend, T., Sedikides, C., & Green, J. D. (1997). How
would it feel if . . . ? Mood as input to a role fulfillment evalua-
tion process. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73,
Merchant, A., Ford, J. B., & Rose, G. (2011). How personal nostal-
gia influences giving to charity. Journal of Business Research,
64, 610-616. doi:10.1016/j.jbusres.2010.06.013
Mosing, M. A., Zietsch, B. P., Shekar, S. N., Wright, M. J., &
Martin, N. G. (2009). Genetic and environmental influences on
optimism and its relationship to mental and self-rated health: A
study of aging twins. Behavior Genetics, 39, 597-604.
Nawas, M. M., & Platt, J. J. (1965). A future-oriented theory of
nostalgia. Journal of Individual Psychology, 21, 51-57.
The New Oxford Dictionary of English. (1998). Oxford, UK:
Oxford University Press.
Peetz, J., & Wilson, A. E. (2008). The temporally extended self: The
relation of past and future selves to current identity, motivation,
and goal pursuit. Social and Personality Psychology Compass,
2, 2090-2106. doi:10.1111/j.1751-9004.2008.00150.x
Pennebaker, J. W., Booth, R. J., & Francis, M. E. (2007). Linguistic
inquiry and word count: LIWC. Austin, TX: LIWC.net.
Pennebaker, J. W., & Graybeal, A. (2001). Patterns of natural
language use: Disclosure, personality, and social integra-
tion. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 10, 90-93.
Pyszczynski, T., Greenberg, J., Solomon, S., Arndt, J., & Schimel,
J. (2004). Why do people need self-esteem? A theoretical
and empirical review. Psychological Bulletin, 130, 435-468.
Routledge, C., Arndt, J., Sedikides, C., & Wildschut, T. (2008). A
blast from the past: The terror management function of nostal-
gia. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44, 132-140.
Routledge, C., Arndt, J., Sedikides, C., Wildschut, T., Hart, C.
M., Juhl, J., & Schlotz, W. (2011). The past makes the pres-
ent meaningful: Nostalgia as an existential resource. Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 101, 638-652. doi:10.1037/
Routledge, C., Wildschut, T., Sedikides, C., Juhl, J., & Arndt, J.
(2012). The power of the past: Nostalgia as a meaning-making
resource. Memory, 20, 452-460. doi:10.1080/09658211.2012.
Rude, S. S., Gortner, E., & Pennebaker, J. W. (2004). Language
use of depressed and depression-vulnerable college stu-
dents. Cognition & Emotion, 18, 1121-1133. doi:10.1080/
Saphire-Bernsteina, S., Way, B. M., Kim, H. S., Sherman,
D. K., & Taylor, S. E. (2011). Oxytocin receptor gene
(OXTR) is related to psychological resources. Proceedings
of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of
America, 108, 15118-15122. doi:10.1073/pnas.1113137108/-/
Schacter, D. L., & Addis, D. R. (2007). The cognitive neuroscience
of constructive memory: Remembering the past and imagin-
ing the future. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society
of London B Biological Sciences, 362, 773-786. doi:10.1098/
Scheier, M. F., & Carver, C. (1992). Effects of optimism on psy-
chological and physical well-being: Theoretical overview and
empirical update. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 16, 201-
Scheier, M. F., & Carver, C. S. (1993). On the power of positive
thinking: The benefits of being optimistic. Current Directions
in Psychological Science, 2, 26-30. doi:10.1111/1467-8721.
Scheier, M. F., Carver, C. S., & Bridges, M. W. (1994).
Distinguishing optimism from neuroticism (and trait anxi-
ety, self-mastery, and self-esteem): A re-evaluation of the
Life Orientation Test. Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, 67, 1063-1078. doi:10.1037/0022-35126.96.36.1993
Scheuchzer, J. J. (1731). De nostalgia. De Bononiensi Scientiarum
et Artium Instituto atque Academia Commentarii, I, 307-313.
Sedikides, C., & Hepper, E. G. D. (2009). Self-improvement. Social
and Personality Psychology Compass, 3, 899-917.
Sedikides, C., & Skowronski, J. A. (1997). The symbolic self in
evolutionary context. Personality and Social Psychology
Review, 1, 80-102.
Sedikides, C., Wildschut, T., Arndt, J., & Routledge, C. (2006).
Affect and the self. In J. P. Forgas (Ed.), Affect in social think-
ing and behavior: Frontiers in social psychology (pp. 197-
215). New York, NY: Psychology Press.
Sedikides, C., Wildschut, T., Arndt, J., & Routledge, C. (2008).
Nostalgia: Past, present, and future. Current Directions in
Psychological Science, 17, 304-307. doi:10.1111/j.1467-
Sedikides, C., Wildschut, T., & Baden, D. (2004). Nostalgia:
Conceptual issues and existential functions. In J. Greenberg,
S. Koole, & T. Pyszczynski (Eds.), Handbook of experimental
existential psychology (pp. 200-214). New York, NY: Guilford.
Sedikides, C., Wildschut, T., Routledge, C., Arndt, J., Hepper, E.
G., Vail, K., & Vingerhoets, A. J. J. M. (2013). Nostalgia coun-
ters self-discontinuity and fosters self-continuity: Implications
for well-being. Manuscript submitted for publication.
Segerstrom, S. C. (2007). Optimism and resources: Effects on
each other and on health over 10 years. Journal of Research in
Personality, 41, 772-786. doi:10.1016/j.jrp.2006.09.004
Stephan, E., Sedikides, C., & Wildschut, T. (2012). Mental travel
into the past: Differentiating recollections of nostalgic,
1496 Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 39(11)
ordinary, and positive events. European Journal of Social
Psychology, 42, 290-298. doi:10.1002/ejsp.1865
Sterba, E. (1940). Homesickness and the mother’s breast.
Psychiatric Quarterly, 14, 701-707. doi:10.1007/BF01566790
Suddendorf, T., & Corballis, M. C. (2007). The evolution of fore-
sight: What is mental time travel and is it unique to humans?
Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 30, 299-313. doi:10.1017/
Sweeny, K., & Krizan, Z. (2013). Causes and consequences of
expectation trajectories: “High” on optimism in a public ref-
erendum. Psychological Science, 24, 706-714. doi:10.1177/
Symister, P., & Friend, R. (2003). The influence of social sup-
port and problematic support on optimism and depression in
chronic illness: A prospective study evaluating self-esteem as a
mediator. Health Psychology, 22, 123-129. doi:10.1037//0278-
Tabachnick, B. G., & Fidell, L. S. (2007). Using multivariate statis-
tics (5th ed.). Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Pearson.
Tulving, E. (1985). Memory and consciousness. Canadian
Psychologist, 26, 1-12. doi:10.1037/h0080017
Turner, R. N., Wildschut, T., & Sedikides, C. (2012). Dropping
the weight stigma: Nostalgia improves attitudes toward per-
sons who are overweight. Journal of Experimental Social
Psychology, 48, 130-137. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2011.09.007
Turner, R. N., Wildschut, T., Sedikides, C., & Gheorghiu, M.
(2013). Combating the mental health stigma with nostalgia.
European Journal of Social Psychology. Advance online pub-
van Tilburg, W. A. P., Igou, E. R., & Sedikides, C. (2013). In
search of meaningfulness: Nostalgia as an antidote to boredom.
Emotion, 13, 450-461. doi:10.1037/a0030442
Verplanken, B. (2012). When bittersweet turns sour: Adverse
effects of nostalgia on habitual worriers. European Journal of
Social Psychology, 42, 285-289. doi:10.1002/ejsp.1852
Vess, M., Arndt, J., Routledge, C., Sedikides, C., & Wildschut, T.
(2012). Nostalgia as a resource for the self. Self and Identity,
11, 273-284. doi:10.1080/15298868.2010.521452
Viard, A., Chételat, G., Lebreton, K., Desgranges, B., Landeau, B.,
de La Sayette, V., & Piolino, P. (2011). Mental time travel into
the past and the future in healthy aged adults: An fMRI study.
Brain and Cognition, 75, 1-9. doi:10.1016/j.bandc.2010.10.009
Watson, D., Clark, L. A., & Tellegen, A. (1988). Development and
validation of brief measures of positive and negative affect: The
PANAS scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,
Wildschut, T., Sedikides, C., Arndt, J., & Routledge, C. (2006).
Nostalgia: Content, triggers, functions. Journal of Personality
and Social Psychology, 91, 975-993. doi:10.1037/0022-
Wildschut, T., Sedikides, C., Routledge, C., Arndt, J., & Cordaro, P.
(2010). Nostalgia as a repository of social connectedness: The
role of attachment-related avoidance. Journal of Personality
and Social Psychology, 98, 573-586. doi:10.1037/a0017597
Wilson, A., & Ross, M. (2003). The identity function of autobio-
graphical memory: Time is on our side. Memory, 11, 137-149.
Zauberman, G., Ratner, R. K., & Kim, B. K. (2009). Memories
as assets: Strategic memory protection over time. Journal of
Consumer Research, 35, 715-728. doi:10.1086/592943
Zhou, X., Sedikides, C., Wildschut, T., & Gao, D. G. (2008).
Counteracting loneliness: On the restorative function of nos-
talgia. Psychological Science, 19, 1023-1029. doi:10.1111/
Zhou, X., Wildschut, T., Sedikides, C., Chen, X., & Vingerhoets, A.
J. J. M. (2012). Heartwarming memories: Nostalgia maintains
physiological comfort. Emotion, 12, 678-684.
Zhou, X., Wildschut, T., Sedikides, C., Shi, K., & Feng, C. (2012).
Nostalgia: The gift that keeps on giving. Journal of Consumer
Research, 39, 39-50. doi:10.1086/662199