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Nostalgia relieves the disillusioned mind

Maher, Paul J and Igou, Eric R and van Tilburg, Wijnand AP (2021) 'Nostalgia relieves the disillusioned mind.' Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 92. ISSN 0022-1031

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Abstract

Disillusionment arises when life experiences strongly discredited positive assumptions or deeply help beliefs. Under these conditions, people feel lost, confused, and disconnected from their social environments. Ultimately, disillusioned individuals struggle to maintain meaning and inhabit a state of existential concern. However, the past can provide solace as a refuge of meaning and social connection. Indeed, nostalgic reflection is a commonly cited source of meaning in life. Accordingly, we investigated if disillusioned people could rely on nostalgic reverie to bolster, or reestablish, diminished perceptions of meaning, in three experiments. In Study 1, we confirmed that experimentally induced disillusionment lowers perceptions of meaning. In Study 2, induced disillusionment caused people to retrieve nostalgic events in a memory recall task, and feelings of nostalgia subsequently suppressed the effect of disillusionment on meaning in life. Finally, in Study 3, we manipulated both disillusionment and nostalgia, before measuring meaningfulness. Only disillusioned participants who did not engage in nostalgic reflection suffered meaning-loss. These results provide convergent evidence for the nostalgia-as-meaning resource hypothesis and further support the well-established psychological benefits of nostalgia. Our findings delineate a common story of our time; disillusioned citizens can replenish and reaffirm meaning in thoughts of past fondness and glory.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Nostalgia, Disillusionment, Self-regulation, Meaning
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2020 14:07
Last Modified: 16 Oct 2020 14:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/28908

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