Nostalgia and Populism: An Empirical Psychological Perspective

Tim Wildschut, Constantine Sedikides, Anouk Smeekes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


For centuries, nostalgia denoted homesickness, but current dictionary definitions indicate that these two concepts have parted ways and acquired discrete meanings. However, it is one thing to demonstrate that contemporary definitions of nostalgia and homesickness are distinct; it is another to show that the way people think about nostalgia and its characteristics corresponds to this lexicographic knowledge. In 2012, Erica G. Hepper and colleagues therefore asked laypeople to identify which features they considered most characteristic of the construct 'nostalgia' and found that respondents conceptualised nostalgia as a predominantly positive, social, and past-oriented emotion. In nostalgic reverie, one brings to mind a fond and personally meaningful event, often involving one's childhood. The person tends to see the event through rose-coloured glasses and may even long to return to the past. As a result, he or she feels sentimental, typically happy but with a hint of sadness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-132
JournalZeithistorische Forschungen / Studies in Contemporary History
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • nostalgia
  • reminiscence
  • emotionality
  • populism


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