The nostalgic process and experience : an examination of the cognitive and experiential nature of the nostalgic process at state and trait levels. (2020)
Type of ContentTheses / Dissertations
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
PublisherUniversity of Canterbury
AuthorsBhattacharya, Oindrilashow all
This main objective of this research work was to study the experiential nature of nostalgia. Nostalgia is a complex phenomenon with a cognitive component focussed on past autobiographical memories that elicits a rich phenomenological experience, which has a strong affective signature characterised by a powerful motivational aspect of longing for that past time. This thesis investigated this complex phenomenon in terms of its cognitive components and the phenomenological, affective and motivational nature of the experience, while accounting for individual differences. To this end, two studies were conducted.
Study 1 (N = 52) was an exploratory survey that investigated the motivational intention and affective tone expressed in nostalgic experiences. It also investigated cultural differences, and the prevalence of personal and historical nostalgia. The results showed that historical nostalgia—nostalgia for particular historical periods—was not universal, while personal nostalgia differed in its contents and experiences. Nostalgia was mostly a positive experience and the motivation mostly did not involve a wish to return to the past.
Study 2 (N = 487) was an experiment that observed the nostalgic process when elicited through two different types of triggers—instructions and music. The influence of individual differences in age, gender, culture, life satisfaction and trait nostalgia (i.e., people’s tendency to feel more or less nostalgia) and the emotions and motivations for their general nostalgic experiences on the state nostalgic process were also examined. The nostalgic experiences were generally positive and were characterised by a wish to momentarily relive the past and experience similar future times. The experiences further varied with the trigger that elicited nostalgia and from one individual to another. Thus, nostalgia is not a constant phenomenon and its complex nature can be explicated by examining its components during empirical observations of the phenomenon as a whole.