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Fighting Ageism through Nostalgia

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European Journal of Social Psychology

Published online on


Two experiments tested whether nostalgia a resource for fighting ageism. In Experiment 1, younger adults who recalled a nostalgic (vs. ordinary) encounter with an older adult showed a more positive attitude toward older adults, mediated by greater inclusion of older adults in the self (IOGS). In Experiment 2, these findings were replicated and extended with a subtle nostalgia manipulation. Younger adults identified an older, familiar adult, before writing about an encounter with this person that was characterised by either central (e.g., “keepsakes,” “childhood”) or peripheral (e.g., “wishing,” “daydreaming”) features of the construct of nostalgia (i.e., prototype). Participants who recalled a central (vs. peripheral) nostalgic encounter reported greater social connectedness, which predicted increased IOGS. In turn, increased IOGS was associated with lower desire to avoid older adults. Several alternative explanations for the intergroup benefits of nostalgia were ruled out. The research established that nostalgia qualifies as a resource for combatting ageism.