Nostalgia, Reflection, and Brooding: Psychological Benefits and Autobiographical Memory Functions

Tonglin Jiang, Wing Yee Cheung, Tim Wildschut, Constantine Sedikides

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We sought to clarify the psychological profile of experimentally induced nostalgia, compared to two other modes of thinking about one’s past— reflection and brooding—also experimentally induced. We tested both British and Chinese participants. Our main hypothesis was that nostalgia’s profile is more positive in terms of six psychological benefits and seven autobiographical memory functions. The results were consistent with the hypothesis. In regard to psychological benefits, nostalgia (vs. reflection and brooding) increased positive affect, self-esteem, self-continuity, social connectedness, and meaning in life. Furthermore, nostalgia increased optimism relative to brooding (but not reflection). In regard to autobiographical memory functions, nostalgia (vs. reflection and brooding) led to higher boredom reduction, conversation, intimacy maintenance, and death preparation, as well as lower bitterness revival. Nostalgia also elevated teach/inform relative to brooding (but not reflection). The findings were similar for British and Chinese participants.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages29
JournalConsciousness and Cognition
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2021


  • Autobiographical memory functions
  • Brooding
  • Culture
  • Nostalgia
  • Psychological benefits
  • Reflection

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