Essay on the Nature of Nostalgia

Published: 2021-08-15
1133 words
5 pages
10 min to read
Sewanee University of the South
Type of paper: 
Research paper
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Also, based on modern-day research done by scholars across multiple disciplines, similar to grief, nostalgia can be a reaction to lose. However, McDonald (2016) argues that the severity or the intensity of how this kind of nostalgia manifests is based on the specific thing that was lost and also how life is like currently after the loss. Based on this context, nostalgia can be said to be an expression of where an individual has come from and where they are now. Therefore, similar to mourning, nostalgia can hold us back as we try to move on with life. This means that it can keep us trapped in certain events that happened in the past and also which need to be unraveled before we can move on to the next phases of our lives.

Additionally, Sedikides, Wildschut, Gaertner, Routledge, and Arndt (2008) point out that nostalgia has various future directions which are also considered as key psychological functions of nostalgia. For instance, there is evidence that nostalgia can facilitate the continuity between peoples past and their present. This means that the emotions associated with nostalgia primarily promote the use of positive perceptions regarding the past, which essentially foster a sense of meaning and continuity in an individuals life. In a similar regard, with regard to the future directions and implications of nostalgia, studies substantiate that nostalgia has the potential to motivate. This means that the feelings related to nostalgia primarily foster creativity, boost optimism and also spark a sense of inspiration in an individual.

Recent studies also contend that nostalgia is considered as a crucial phenomenon in marketing and advertising. In this regard, scholars contend that as human beings age, so do their nostalgic yearning grow hence making them more receptive to advertisements that evoke positive memories of the past. Besides, despite the fact that scientists still struggle with unraveling the neuro-dynamics of nostalgia, modern-day literature identifies some certain nostalgic cues that can be exploited efficiently. For instance, advertisers and marketers make use of certain sounds and images from the past which evokes nostalgic emotions on the consumers and as a result creating favorable attitudes towards the products. According to psychologists, this kind of advertisement strategy taps into something fundamental about the human mind in the sense that, every time a person sees or hears these advertisements, they not only evoke their earlier memories but also re-cast the past into a more appealing remembered version.

Boym (2001) substantiates that there is two very distinct types of nostalgia, reflective and restorative nostalgia. In relation to the very initial ideology of an existing relationship between nostalgia and homesickness, Boym describes restorative disorder as an emotional longing for home. In this regard people experiencing restorative disorder often have feelings of wanting to reconstruct and relive in a manner similar to how things were in the past. Reflective nostalgia, on the other hand, is primarily centered on a longing or the yearning and wistful feelings while at the same time, accepting that the past is already gone. For instance, for many people, high school happens to be a common trigger of nostalgia. More precisely, for many people seeing or listening to old hit songs that they listened to while in high school, may ruminate on hopes and worries for the kind of life and dreams one had as a teenager and marvel at how utterly different life turned out to be. Thus, in a nutshell, according to Boym, the cornerstone of the reflective disorder is evidenced that amused acceptance of how an individuals past and present contrast (Boym, 2001).

Based on the fact that the topic on nostalgia is considered a diverse and a complex one, scholars from various fields try to classify it in different ways. For instance, according to Holack and Havlena (1992), nostalgia can be classified into a four-way classification, interpersonal, personal, cultural and virtual nostalgia. From a broader perspective, Holack and Havlena argue that, with reference to two fundamental dimensions of nostalgic experience, there is the direct experience versus indirect experience as well as the personal versus collective experience.

According to studies, there is a broad difference between personal and interpersonal nostalgia. In this regard, interpersonal nostalgia is said to be a type of emotional experience based on interpersonal communication regarding the memories that relate to others and also combines other peoples experiences with an individuals own interactions with the person. For example, suppose my mother was brought up in an old wooden house in the countryside, despite the fact that I had never seen it, I have a picture in mind that relates to how she always described it to me. One day, as I was visiting overseas, I happen to see a house that looks exactly like the one my father explained. This, in essence, would evoke my nostalgic interpersonal experience. On the contrary, McDonald (2016,) describes personal nostalgia as that form of emotional experience based on a persons own memories. More specifically, this kind of nostalgia differs significantly among different people. For instance seeing the house that I was brought up in as a child could bring back many personal memories, and as a result, evoke my personal nostalgia.

In a nutshell, based on modern-day literature, nostalgia is both a universal and a predominantly positive emotion that is not only experienced by a certain group of people. Instead, it is an experience common to people from a variety of age groups and may be centered on either direct or indirect memory that may be experienced either positively or collectively. With regard to the psychological functions of nostalgia, it is evident that it is primarily essential in helping people to keep identities and deal with negative effects that may be caused by adversities in their lives. For this reason, owing to the complexity, positive nature and the various psychological features of nostalgia, individuals are usually attracted to those artifacts that evoke the nostalgic experience.


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