The Road to Honors Thesis

Everything is beginning to come together. After all of my reading and researching of imagination, nostalgia, creativity, and memory as well as all the methods for priming and measuring these terms my two studies are ready for launch. My first study is a rather simple correlational study that seeks to find whether or not those who are prone nostalgic experiences are significantly more imaginative/creative than those who are not prone to nostalgia. Most people when I tell them I am studying nostalgia are confused as to how I will do that. When I tell them there is an actual literature for provoking and measuring it they are even more perplexed. My first study uses a measure called the Southampton Nostalgia Scale that actually functions to measure a person’s proneness to nostalgia. The other three questionnaires evaluate what I believe to be three other major constructs related to the broader construct of imagination. One evaluates fantasy proneness (i.e. how prone an individual is to fantasy/day-dreaming), another evaluates creativity/cognitive flexibility, and another measures the vividness of mental imagery.

My second study is more involved. This one aims to discover whether nostalgia can be used to prime enhanced imaginative capabilities. The study will also evaluate whether or not any of nostalgia’s potential benefits are due to a separate cause (i.e. one of nostalgia’s direct effects including positive affect, bolstered self-esteem, and higher sense of social connectedness), this is known as a mediation effect. Nostalgia proneness (measured by the Southampton Nostalgia Scale) will also be tested for any possible mediation effects. After priming the participants with either a “nostalgia condition” or “control condition”, they will complete the mediation questionnaires and move on to an evaluation of both internally-oriented imagination (i.e. imagery, fantasizing) and more externally-oriented imagination (i.e. creativity, cognitive flexibility). The measure I am using to evaluate “internal imagination” is actually a measure used in a lot of hypnosis research, the Creative-Imagination Scale. This scale evaluates the strength of an individual’s suggestiveness in different imagined scenarios, basically testing how vivid their imagination is. The measure for “external imagination” evaluates the individual’s originality, flexibility, and overall creativity using a measure I developed based off of Guilford’s Alternate Uses Test. The questionnaire asks the participant to think of all of the different uses an object could have (e.g. a brick could be used as a weapon, a doorstop, a building block, etc.). Together all of the measures in the second study will hopefully present evidence for nostalgia’s influence in imagination and creativity.

Now that all of my background research and prep work is complete I am just waiting on IRB approval to launch the first of my two studies and move forward with my honors thesis. The ability to conduct the bulk of this work before the start of the fall semester has given me a huge leg up in conducting careful, graduate-level research throughout the following school year.