Back to the future: Nostalgia increases optimism

W.-Y. Cheung, T. Wildschut, C. Sedikides, E.G. Hepper, J. Arndt, A.J.J.M. Vingerhoets

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

135 Citations (Scopus)


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 rosier future.
Keywords: nostalgia, optimism, emotion, memory, self-esteem, social connectedness
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1484-1496
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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