Nostalgia: A Psychological Resource, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover


A Psychological Resource, 1st Edition

By Clay Routledge


158 pages

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Nostalgia is a topic that most lay people are familiar with, but, until recently, few social scientists understood. Once viewed as a disease, nostalgia is now considered to be an important psychological resource. It involves revisiting personally cherished memories that involve close others. When people engage in nostalgia, they experience a boost in positive psychological states such as positive mood, feelings of social connectedness, self-esteem, self-continuity, and perceptions of meaning in life. Since nostalgia promotes these positive states, when people experience negative states (such as loneliness or meaninglessness), they use nostalgia to regulate distress.

This book explains in detail what nostalgia is, how views of it have changed over time, and how it has been studied by social scientists. It explores issues like how common nostalgia is and whether people differ in their tendency to be nostalgic. It looks at the triggers and inspiration for nostalgia, and the emotional states that are associated with it. Finally, the psychological, social, and behavioral effects of engaging in nostalgia are discussed.

This volumeprovides the most comprehensive overview to date of the social scientific research into the complex and intriguing phenomenon of nostalgia. It will be of interest to a range of students and researchers in psychology and beyond, and its accessible writing style and engaging anecdotes will also be appreciated by a wider, non-academic audience.


"There is a dearth of psychological research in the area of nostalgia, and what Clay Routledge achieves with this book is to fill it… Different from a typical scholarly article, which feels cold and lackluster, Routledge's writing is entertaining, is lighthearted, and resembles a conversation between him and the reader. At its core, his book is truly an aggregate of research studies conducted around the world with a diverse sample of populations. One of the strengths of the book is that his writing eases the reader to logically think of the next research question, and the reader is surprised (or perhaps purposefully primed) to discover that Routledge had similar thoughts and answered the reader's questions, leaving the reader partly satisfed. Another carefully crafted writing technique and strength of the book is how he ends each chapter with a hint of the next chapter's topic, again leaving the reader wanting more… Routledge appears to be mindful of the hurried life of most professionals and strives to make Nostalgia a quick and easy read." - Guiliana McQuirt, Florida State University College of Medicine, PsycCritiques

"Nostalgia: A Psychological Resource provides the most comprehensive overview to date of the social scientific research into the complex and intriguing phenomenon of nostalgia." – Jack Mason, Midwest Book Review

"Clay Routledge manages to combine a scholarly approach with anecdotal detail and wit, which makes this insightful and comprehensive overview of nostalgia research highly accessible to a wide audience." –Tim Wildschut, Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Southampton

"Routledge (North Dakota State Univ.) presents a broad sumary of all current research on nostalgia… After briefly summarizing changes in understanding of nostalgia through the ages, Routledge systematically details typical experiences of nostalgia; antecendents, connections, and consequences of nostalgia; and details regarding individual differences in nostalgia… The breadth of information presented is impresive, and the author includes data from both non-experimental and experiemntal investigations… The reader comes away with a deep understanding of all current knowledge in this area of psychological research… Summing Up: Recommended. All readers." -C. J. Jones, California State University, Fresno, Choice

Table of Contents

1. From the Past to the Present: A History of Nostalgia. 2. How we Perceive and Experience Nostalgia. 3. What Makes People Nostalgic? 4. The Affective Consequences of Nostalgia. 5. The Social Functions of Nostalgia. 6. The Self-Related Functions of Nostalgia. 7. The Existential Functions of Nostalgia. 8. Individual Differences and Nostalgia. 9. The Future of the Past: Emerging Research on Nostalgia.

About the Author

Clay Routledge is a leading expert in the psychology of nostalgia and experimental existential psychology. He has published over 75 scientific papers. Dr. Routledge’s work is regularly featured in the media and he writes the popular blog More Than Mortal for Psychology Today.

About the Series

Essays in Social Psychology

Essays in Social Psychology is designed to meet the need for rapid publication of brief volumes in social psychology.

Primary topics will include social cognition, interpersonal relationships, group processes, and intergroup relations, as well as applied issues.

Furthermore, the series seeks to define social psychology in its broadest sense, encompassing all topics either informed by, or informing, the study of individual behavior and thought in social situations.

Each volume in the series will make a conceptual contribution to the topic by reviewing and synthesizing the existing research literature, by advancing theory in the area, or by some combination of these missions.

The principal aim is that authors will provide an overview of their own highly successful research program in an area.

It is also expected that volumes will, to some extent, include an assessment of current knowledge and identification of possible future trends in research.

Each book will be a self-contained unit supplying the advanced reader with a well-structured review of the work described and evaluated.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Cognitive Psychology
PSYCHOLOGY / Personality
PSYCHOLOGY / Social Psychology
PSYCHOLOGY / Movements / Existential