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Triggering Nostalgia

There’s that one movie you watch every single year, a TV-show that you have binged every birthday since you were twelve. It’s a ritual, something you take for granted. Watching the same sitcom every time you're sad, your hand goes immediately to that one episode in that one season that you just know makes you feel good inside. There’s something that it makes us feel, to revisit moments of our life, frozen in time through the movies we watch: Nostalgia. 

Tim Wildschut and Constantine Sedikides, in their research titled ‘The psychology of nostalgia: delineating the emotion’s nature and functions’, write that nostalgia is evoked by events that are “temporally distant, unique and pleasant, yet irretrievably lost”. This creates both happiness and longing. Interestingly, they also note that nostalgia has an important social function: it fosters a perceived sense of community support and connectedness. Their experiments showed that volunteers who thought about nostalgic events–in comparison to everyday routine– had a higher sense of “interpersonal competence” such as their ability to help a friend in need or go to a gathering without known people. 

This is the reason why remakes are so popular, not because the new generation wants to watch them, but because the previous one actively seeks reminders of their childhood. For me, reading comic books, from Amar Chitra Katha and Tinkle’s 'Shikari Shambu' to 'Asterix' and 'Calvin and Hobbes', puts a subtle yet overwhelming smile on my face. There’s a churn in my stomach when I open those faded pages and run my hand over the colours.

Feeling nostalgic isn’t just fun and refreshing but also fulfilling. It reassures us and our relationships with people. Going through our past experiences is a way to take a step back and look at how far we’ve grown and how astonishingly, scarily, and quickly things have changed. 


  • Wildschut, Tim, and Constantine Sedikides. “The Psychology of Nostalgia.” Nostalgia Now: Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives on the Past in the Present, Routledge, 2020, pp. 48-65.

  • Image Credits- Cartoon Network, Tinkle Comics, Excerpt from Bill Waterson's 'Calvin and Hobbes'.

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