November 28, 2008

Nostalgia can counteract lonliness

Nostalgia amplifies perceptions of social support, and in this way, counteracts feelings of loneliness, British and Chinese researchers said.

Constantine Sedikides and Tim Wildschut from the University of Southampton, England, and Xinyue Zhou and Ding-Guo Gao from Sun Yat-Sen University, in China, ran a series of experiments that had participants answer questions related to feelings of loneliness, social support and nostalgia.

The study participants included children, college students and factory workers. In addition, the factory workers were also assessed on their resilience -- their ability to recover from traumatic events and adverse life situations.

The study, published in Psychological Science, found individuals who felt the loneliest reported receiving the least amount of social support.

However, when nostalgia was induced in a number of the study participants, they in turn perceived to have the greatest amount of social support.

These findings suggest nostalgia boosts perceptions of social support, and in this way, mitigates feelings of loneliness. In addition, the findings revealed that the most resilient individuals are more likely to use nostalgia to overcome feelings of loneliness.