June 15, 2018

Credit: Lefteris Pitarakis / AP Photo

Playing hide-and-go-seek with your best friend. Opening up fresh supplies on the first day of school. Going on your first date. People get nostalgic about the personal relationships they’ve had, and the experiences they can’t get back. But that doesn’t mean they’re living in the past. Nostalgia can, in fact, be a good thing. We talk with Le Moyne College psychology professor Krystine Batcho about how our perspective on bygone days actually affects our present.  

Three Takeaways: 

  • There’s two major types of nostalgia: historical and personal. The slogan “Make America Great Again” is an example of historical, while thinking back on family vacations when you were a kid is personal nostalgia. 
  • Nostalgia, when harnessed correctly, can help us get through tough times. Batcho says it helps us through change and offers a sense of continuity to our lives. 
  • But, to use nostalgia correctly, Batcho says it’s best if we seek out the triggers. Looking through your photo album might be healthy, but stumbling on an unhappy memory on Facebook might do more harm than good.   

More Reading:

  • Did you know that at one point in history nostalgia was considered a disease? The Atlantic looks at why.  
  • Read a study from North Dakota State University about why how nostalgia is helpful.  
  • Think Americans are nostalgic? Uruguay has a whole day dedicated to it. 

Web Extra: 

Krystine Batcho developed the Nostalgia Inventory more than 20 years ago with the hope of measuring how much nostalgia a person is feeling at the moment. She notes that you might feel more, or less, nostalgic depending on what’s currently going on in your life. Follow this link to find out your score. Just add up the points from each question and divide by 20 to get your score. And listen to the audio below to hear Batcho explain more about the inventory’s methodology.

memory, Krystine Batcho, Culture, nostalgia, psychology

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