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
Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University
New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.
But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...
Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.
The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
22.02.2018 | Life Sciences
22.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
22.02.2018 | Earth Sciences