Thinking about beautiful past increases your positivity towards future

Optimism (Credit: Camdiluv ♥/Flickr)

Main Point:

Researchers have found that nostalgic feelings (about the past) can help in increasing positivity about the future.

Published in:

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin

Study Further:


It is a mixed feeling of happiness, sadness, and longing when recalling a person, place, or event from the past, or the past in general.

“Nostalgia is experienced frequently and virtually by everyone and we know that it can maintain psychological comfort. For example, nostalgic reverie can combat loneliness. We wanted to take that a step further and assess whether it can increase a feeling of optimism about the future,” Dr Tim Wildschut, co-author of the study, said in a statement.

Present Research:

In one experiment, researchers asked participants in a group to write something about the past nostalgic event. They found that the number of optimistic words were significantly higher than the words written by the participants in the other control group.

In another experiment, researchers presented nostalgic music to one group of participants and control song to another group and found that the participants, who listened to nostalgic song showed higher levels of optimism than those who listened to control song.

In another experiment, researchers presented song lyrics with nostalgic experience to one group of participants and control lyrics to another group of participants. They found that the participants, who listened to nostalgic lyrics, were more optimistic than the other group.

“Nostalgia raises self-esteem which in turn heightens optimism. Our findings have shown that nostalgia does have the capacity to facilitate perceptions of a more positive future. Memories of the past can help to maintain current feelings of self-worth and can contribute to a brighter outlook on the future. Our findings do imply that nostalgia, by promoting optimism, could help individuals cope with psychological adversity,” Dr Wildschut explained.

“The nostalgic experience is inherently optimistic and paints a subjectively rosier future,” Researchers wrote.


Back to the future: nostalgia increases optimism – University of Southampton (

Wing-Yee Cheung et al. (2013). Back to the Future – Nostalgia Increases Optimism Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin DOI: 10.1177/0146167213499187

Usman Zafar Paracha

Usman Zafar Paracha is a sort of entrepreneur. He is the author of "Color Atlas of Statistics", and the owner of an Android game "Faily Rocket."