The positive effects of nostalgia and how listening to 80's music is actually good for you. I recently wrote in my weekly newsletter about my slight obsession with Absolute 80's radio and the fact that the 10th August was Duran Duran Appreciation Day, which came as a surprise to me but then there are so many weird and wonderful celebration days now that it shouldn't be and neither should the idea of appreciating something from our past, even if it is 1980's pop music.
I've been doing a bit of reading about the impact and influence nostalgia has and just how important a part it can play in our lives. There have been extensive studies and a lot of research on this subject in the past 20 years or so and one of the main benefits that has been discovered is that nostalgia can help us to feel more optimistic about the future, it makes us feel more socially connected to others, which in turn makes us feel better about ourselves. Feeling better in the moment can give us a boost of positive feeling.
Amazingly, nostalgia was originally considered to be a neurological disease when the term was first used in 1688 and a 'mentally repressive compulsive disorder', but thanks to research so much more is known about it's positive effects and these are also common to people around the world.
Feeling nostalgic can make us more willing to part with our money too and retailers, advertisers and even charities use this effect to their advantage. Those positive feelings and optimism means that our desire for money doesn't have such a strong effect on us and we are happy to give more away.
Nostalgia is ever popular on social media too and as time goes by there are more and more images and memories being archived that we can return to again and again. Facebook itself capitalises on this by sending us albums of photos friends have shared on the Facebook anniversary of your friendship...I experienced this recently and really enjoyed looking back over the past 8 years of shared fond memories.
Studies have shown that nostalgia can have a long lasting effect on our decisions politically as well.*
There is evidence to show too that nostalgia can protect and foster mental health, counteracting feelings of loneliness, boredom and anxiety.^
It can also help us with transitions in our lives, from child to adult for example, as we experience leaving home, getting our first job etc, we benefit from looking back at fond memories of school or family holidays during that time.
So, back to my obsession with Absolute 80's radio and these theories help to explain why I like it so much, but also listening to nostalgic music can actually make you feel physically warmer, nostalgia is more common on cold days apparently.
All of which makes me feel even better about the fact that I love listening to the music of my youth and having hard scientific fact means I can fully justify this when my partner moans about having to listen to yet more 80's pop!
Let me know in the comments what makes you nostalgic. Is it music, memories of holidays as a child or even certain smells, I would love to know!
(*Lasaleta, Sedikides and Vohs 2014, in the Journal of Consumer Research)
(^Zhan, Sedikides, Wildschut & Gao 2008, Psychological Science)