Nostalgic Memories Can Improve Your Mood

Have you ever channel surfed and come across an old rerun you’ve seen many times before…but you stop and watch it anyway? Or maybe you find yourself in the candy aisle during the holidays and see a candy you remember from childhood…and you have to buy it?

Perhaps an old song comes over the speaker system at the mall and you find yourself tapping your foot and singing along?

That is nostalgia and scientists are saying it can improve your mood and your overall well being.

The television, movie, and music industries bank on it. When they find something that worked the first time, they recycle it again and again and again.

Old movies are digitally re-mastered, television reruns are sold in a box set, books are reissued with new cover art and compilation albums of “greatest hits” are put together, because the entertainment industry knows consumers will buy.

Our Nostalgic Memories Are Recycled and Repackaged…and Consumers Buy

They made us feel good before…they will make us feel good again.

This is the basis for a research study conducted by Cristel Russell, Marketing Professor at the American University. She refers to the phenomenon as “re-consumption.” The entertainment industry calls it a “sure thing.” Nostalgic Memories

Russell explains, “Understanding re-consumption…is incredibly important. If we can look at the underlying drivers of re-consumption, we can help businesses to better understand their customers and help them create products that consumers will use again and again.” She and her co-author, Sidney Levy, concluded that re-consumption serves a purpose.

Five of them, in fact:

  • Regressive
  • Progressive
  • Reconstructive
  • Relational
  • Reflective

Nostalgic Memories May Also Foster Our Feelings of Belonging

Naomi Mandel & Katherine E. Loveland from Arizona State University, and Dirk Smeesters from Erasmus University, researched our preference of nostalgic memories and products from our past over modern alternatives.

Their study, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, found that, “Whenever a situation arises in which people feel a heightened need to belong to a group, or generally need to feel socially connected, they will show a…preference for nostalgic products.”

The subjects in their study, after being excluded from group activities, chose items in different categories – such as food, cars, clothing, music, books, and movies – that reminded them of a happier time from their past.

Researchers suggest if you’re feeling lonely or left out to, “Try watching a movie that you loved watching in college, or eating a food that reminds you of when you were a kid. It really will make you feel better.

Research scientist, Jaye Derrick, PhD, at the University of Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions found that participants in her study developed the drive to accomplish an unpleasant task after watching an old episode of a favorite show.

The effect of nostalgic memories appears to stimulate will power and self control. The comfort and familiarity of characters in reruns are predictable, causing us to completely relax.

Derrick said, “When you watch a favorite rerun, you typically don’t have to use any effort to control what you are thinking, saying or doing. You are not exerting the mental energy required for self-control or willpower.

At the same time…this activity restores your energy. “Researchers found that newer programming didn’t have the same effect, nor did channel surfing.

Television might not be as bad as we’ve always been told…and biting into an Oh Henry™ bar could improve your mood, and not just because it is utterly delicious.

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