Advance ticket sales have ended but plenty of additional tickets remain available at the door.
Profs and Pints Richmond presents: “The Psychology of Nostalgia,” a look at research on the triggers and effects of wistful recollections of the past, with Jeffrey Green, professor of psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Get ready for a talk that you someday might fondly remember, on nostalgia and experimental research identifying its triggers and impact on our thinking and our lives.
Among the questions we’ll tackle: Where does nostalgia come from? Is it largely a positive and adaptive emotion, or is it an unhealthy one representing a denial of the present? How does it affect us in the present and the future?
Dr. Jeffrey Green, who oversees many such experiments at his social psychology laboratory at VCU, will start by giving you an understanding of how the scientific community’s views of nostalgia have changed over time. You’ll learn how nostalgia was considered to be a brain disease by Johannes Hofer, the Swiss physician who coined the word “nostalgia” in 1688. For the next 400 years the scientific community and society at large thought of nostalgia as an emotion that was unhealthy or even pathological, assuming it was the cause of various conditions found among those who experienced it.
It wasn’t until after 2006 that real empirical research on nostalgia commenced on a large scale, producing evidence that it’s largely positive.
Dr. Green will discuss research showing how nostalgic feelings can be triggered by various senses, such as smell and taste, as well as by experiences such as rereading parts of a favorite book or looking at an old photo. He’ll talk about findings that nostalgic reflection increases our feelings of social connection, self-continuity, and well-being, as well as how much we feel there is meaning in life. It also heightens creativity, optimism, and inspiration.
One especially complex form of such mental time travel yields what is called “anticipated nostalgia.” We project ourselves into the future and imagine thinking about the present moment at that time—basically looking forward to looking back on the present. In doing so we give the present more meaning and flavor.
Dr. Green will look at whether everyone benefits from feeling nostalgic, and he’ll discuss practical ways to give ourselves daily doses of nostalgia to reap its benefits. (Advance tickets: $13.50 plus sales tax and processing fees. Doors: $17, or $15 with a student ID. Listed time is for doors. Talk starts 30 minutes later.)
Image from Canva.