If you’re old enough to fondly remember that old classic-rock hit, "Living in the Past" by Jethro Tull, you can rest assured that your nostalgic memories of yesterday are probably having a positive influence on your future outlook.
The findings, published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, are based on four experiments focusing on nostalgia, self-esteem, and mood.
"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," the researchers concluded.
For the study, investigators conducted four tests that found:
- Nostalgic stories tend to include at least some traces of hopeful optimism, compared with ordinary narratives.
- Recollection of nostalgic (vs. ordinary) events often leads to more positive expectations of the future.
- Listening to music from the past not only induces positive feelings of nostalgia, but also raises self-esteem.
- Even lyrics in songs from days gone by can foster social connectedness, increase self-esteem, and boost optimism.
"The nostalgic experience is inherently optimistic and paints a subjectively rosier future," the researchers said.
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