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The power of the past: nostalgia as a meaning-making resource

By Clay Routledge, Tim Wildschut, Constantine Sedikides, Jacob Juhl and Jamie Arndt

Abstract

In three experiments we tested whether nostalgia bolsters meaning in life relative to two other modes of autobiographical thought: imagining a desired future experience and recalling a positive past experience. In Experiment 1 participants thought about a nostalgic or desired future experience and then completed a presence of meaning scale. Thinking about a nostalgic (compared to desired future) experience increased perceived presence of meaning. In Experiment 2 we examined whether nostalgia can additionally reduce the search for meaning. Participants thought about a nostalgic, desired future or recent positive experience, and then completed a search for meaning scale. Nostalgia, relative to both comparison conditions, decreased the search for meaning. Finally we tested whether, by virtue of its capacity to increase meaning, nostalgia can mitigate threats to meaning. In Experiment 3 participants were exposed to either absurd or representational art, under the guise that they would later have to interpret its meaning, and then thought about either a nostalgic or a recent positive experience. Meaning was subsequently measured. The absurd art interpretation condition decreased the perceived presence of meaning but nostalgic reflection attenuated this effec

Topics: BF
Year: 2012
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.soton.ac.uk:341658
Provided by: e-Prints Soton
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