Lost or fond? Effects of nostalgia on sad mood recovery vary by attachment insecurity

Nostalgia involves a fond recollection of people and events lost to time. Growing evidence indicates that nostalgia may ameliorate negative affective states such as loneliness and boredom. However, the effect of nostalgia on sadness is unknown, and there is little research on how social connectedness might impact nostalgia’s effects. Grounded in a theoretical framework whereby people with lower levels of attachment insecurity benefit more from nostalgia, we exposed participants to a mortality-related sad mood and then randomly assigned them to reflect on a nostalgic or an ordinary event memory. We examined changes in mood and electrodermal activity (EDA) and found that nostalgic versus ordinary event memories led to a blunted recovery from sad mood, but that this effect was moderated by degree of attachment insecurity, such that participants with low insecurity benefited from nostalgia whereas people with high insecurity did not. These findings suggest that nostalgia’s benefits may be tied to the degree of confidence one has in one’s social relationships.

New work from my lab.

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