“A Heart in the Past, An Eye on the Future”– A Study of Nostalgia & Imagination

Nostalgia comes from the Greek roots “algos”, for pain, and “nostos”, for homecoming. In spite of nostalgia’s historical portrayal as a type of pain and even an illness, recent research has demonstrated a number of benefits related to nostalgia. One of these benefits, as shown in Stephan, Sedikides, Wildschut, Cheung, Routledge, and Arndt (2015), includes the facilitation of inspiration. This study, however, seeks to examine how nostalgia may augment an individual’s ability to actually perform in the act of creation following inspiration. Imagination, a fundamental component in the creative process, often relies on the active use of memories in conceptualizing new ideas. I hypothesize that nostalgia’s basis in active and emotional autobiographic recall will augment imaginative capabilities. Using participants recruited from an undergraduate population in coastal Virginia, the relationships between nostalgia and imagination will be explored in three studies. The first study will seek to establish a base correlation between trait nostalgia proneness as well as trait imaginativeness. The second will evaluate nostalgia’s influence on imagination as compared to less emotion-laden episodic/semantic recall. The final study will test for any mediation effects from positive affect, high self-esteem, and empathy—three of nostalgia’s most prominent and well-established main effects. This research could have implications for any individual reliant on creativity within his or her occupation, including but not limited to those involved in the arts, marketing, and architecture.