Their findings suggest that for lonely people, drawing on nostalgic memories of happier times could provide a coping mechanism for their feelings, magnifying perceptions of social support and restoring an individual's feelings of social connectedness.
Loneliness is connected to a perceived lack of social support networks, such as close friends and family, and is usually eased by actively seeking support and company from those networks.
However, many lonely people find it difficult to deal with their loneliness directly, either by forming new social support networks or expanding existing ones. This may be because they are shy or have poor social skills, or because relocating to a new job or home has taken them away from friends and family.
Psychologists, from the Universities of Southampton and Sun Yat-Sen University, in Guangzhou, China, conducted four diverse studies to test whether nostalgia could combat the effects of loneliness in people from different walks of life, including schoolchildren, college students and factory workers.
One study involved a group of migrant children between nine and 15 years of age who had moved with their parents from rural areas to the city of Guangzhou. The psychologists assessed how lonely they felt, how nostalgic they were for the past, and how strong they felt their own support networks to be.
The results showed that, while the loneliest children felt there was a lack of social support, they were also the most nostalgic for the past. This in turn increased their perceptions of social support, making them feel less lonely.
Psychologist Dr Tim Wildschut of the University of Southampton explains: "Our findings show that loneliness affects perceived social support in two distinct ways. First, the direct effect of loneliness is to reduce perceived social support, so that the lonelier a person feels, the less social support they perceive for themselves.
"But paradoxically, loneliness may also have an indirect effect by increasing perceived social support via nostalgia: the lonelier someone feels, the more nostalgic they become, and the more social support they may then perceive they have."
Tim continues: "Our findings show that nostalgia is a psychological resource that protects and fosters mental health. It strengthens feelings of social connectedness and belongingness, partially improving the harmful repercussions of loneliness. Our research is an initial step towards establishing nostalgia as a potent coping mechanism in situations of self-threat and social threat. The past, when appropriately harnessed, can strengthen psychological resistance to the vicissitudes of life."
Further, the researchers found a connection between nostalgia and emotional resilience, with the restorative function of nostalgia being particularly marked among highly resilient individuals who are able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions. When lonely, these people report high levels of nostalgia.
The researchers say their findings have implications in a number of areas, including for clinical psychology, where nostalgia could be used as a tool in cognitive therapy, training individuals to benefit from the restorative function of nostalgia when actual social support is lacking or perceived as lacking.
Sue Wilson | alfa
Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT
Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
06.12.2016 | Materials Sciences
06.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
06.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering