According to recent study, nostalgia experiences increase loneliness's sense of meaning in life.
"I was interested in this topic because to research that loneliness is being experienced chronically at very high levels, and research that loneliness is a major risk factor for poor mental and physical health," said study author Andrew A. Abeyta, an assistant professor of psychology at Rutgers University-Camden.
'My life has no purpose/meaning,' says the author, especially since social roles/relationships are a strong source of meaning in life. This research focused on putting the pieces together.'
The researchers conducted a correlational study with 210 undergraduate students. The participants completed assessments of loneliness and meaning in life, as well as expressed how no longer they were about 20 items from the past.
Importantly, Abeyta and his colleagues discovered that loneliness was positively related to meaning in life, while nostalgia was positively related to meaning in life. This suggests that nostalgia can help mitigate loneliness.
The researchers conducted a second research with 229 undergraduate students in which they experimentally induced nostalgia among some participants. (The control condition) or a nostalgic autobiographical memory.
The researchers uncovered evidence that their hypothesis is causal. Among participants who were heavily lonely, those who were in the nostalgia condition reported a greater sense of happiness than those who were in the control condition.
"To the average person, nostalgia can assist meaning even in times like when life feels bleak or hopeless," Abeyta told PsyPost. "However, we believe nostalgia's true power resides in instilling more lasting meaning making efforts," says the author.
Nevertheless, the research, as with all research, includes a few limitations. “It’s crucial to consider how long the effect will last,” Abeyta said.
Andrew A. Abeyta and Jacob Juhl co-authored the book "Nostalgia Restores Meaning in Life for Singles."