Vess_et_al.%2C_2012%2C_Self_and_Identity.eprints.doc - Running head NOSTALGIA AND THE SELF 1 Vess M Arndt J Routledge C Sedikides C Wildschut T(2012

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Running head: NOSTALGIA AND THE SELF Vess, M., Arndt, J., Routledge, C., Sedikides, C., & Wildschut, T. (2012). Nostalgia as a resource for the self. Self and Identity, 3 , 273-284. Nostalgia as a Resource for the Self Matthew Vess and Jamie Arndt University of Missouri Clay Routledge North Dakota State University Constantine Sedikides and Tim Wildschut University of Southampton Corresponding author: Matthew Vess 211 McAlester Hall Department of Psychological Sciences University of Missouri Columbia, MO 65211 email: [email protected] Keywords: nostalgia, self, self-concept accessibility, self-serving bias, feedback 1
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Running head: NOSTALGIA AND THE SELF Abstract This research tested whether nostalgia serves as a positive resource for the self. In Experiment 1, nostalgia was induced and the accessibility of positive self-attributes was assessed. Participants who thought about a nostalgic experience, relative to those who thought about a positive future experience, evidenced heightened accessibility of positive self-attributes. In Experiment 2, participants received negative or positive performance feedback and then thought about a nostalgic or ordinary past experience. Subsequently, they were given the opportunity to make internal attributions for their performance. Participants displayed a typical pattern of self-serving attributions if they were not given the opportunity to engage in nostalgia. Nostalgic engagement, however, attenuated this effect. Nostalgia indeed functions as a positive resource for the self. 2
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Running head: NOSTALGIA AND THE SELF Nostalgia as a Resource for the Self When Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) tells Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman) that they will “always have Paris” in the movie Casablanca , he showcases the human capacity to revisit psychologically momentous events in the past. If the movie were to have followed these characters into the future, it is likely that both would have experienced periods of sentimental longing for the time they spent in the shadow of the Eifel Tower. The purpose of the present research was to explore further the positive psychological benefits that the experience of sentimentality for the past, or nostalgia , confers to the self. Recent perspectives on nostalgia suggest that one key benefit of nostalgia is its bolstering effect on self-esteem (Wildschut, Sedikides, Arndt, & Routledge, 2006). The present work builds from this finding to identify two additional self-relevant functions served by nostalgic reverie. We examine whether nostalgia increases the cognitive accessibility of positive self-attributes (Experiment 1) and reduces self-serving attributions in response to performance feedback (Experiment 2). Early conceptualizations of nostalgia viewed the emotion primarily as a form of psychological dysfunction (Hofer, 1688/1934) and linked it to negative states such as depression (McCann, 1941) and homesickness (Davis, 1979). This is perhaps not surprising, given that many of the “symptoms” thought to be associated with bouts of nostalgia were negative (e.g., anxiety, sadness). However, evidence that individuals associate affectively warm concepts (e.g., warm, childhood) more frequently with nostalgia
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