Early research previously identified nostalgia as a negative experience due to its association with negative psychological states. For example, in a study where researchers (Wildschut et al., 2006) induced high levels of loneliness in some participants and low levels of loneliness in others, the participants in the high loneliness condition were found to be more nostalgic. But we now know that the reason why these participants engaged in more nostalgic thinking is due to the psychological benefits of nostalgia. Nostalgia protects and fosters good mental health. After engaging in nostalgia inducing activities research has shown that people experience higher self-esteem, are more optimistic, feel less lonely and more socially connected, are more creative and can even feel… cosier.
Word association studies show that people often associate nostalgia with the word ‘warm’ but you may be surprised to know that nostalgia has similar physiological benefits. Researchers at the University of Southampton found that people placed in cold rooms rated highest on nostalgia scales and thinking nostalgic thoughts in cold rooms made people think the room was warmer than it actually is. Proof that the good old days can help towards your heating bill this winter!