Why You Feel Nostalgic and Why Is It Used so Often in Advertising

Nostalgia is a powerful force that can make you look lovingly at past things and events, even if parts of the past weren’t all that great . If you feel like everything you are offered these days is based on nostalgia, it’s not a coincidence, but it’s not all bad.

As explained in the TED-Ed video above, like most mental conditions, nostalgia has a confusing history in the psychological realm. This was first noted in the 17th century by a medical student researching Swiss mercenaries serving overseas. At the time, it was believed that the soldiers’ symptoms, including fatigue, insomnia, and fever, were caused by their common desire to return to their homeland. While none of these symptoms actually correlate with nostalgia, it was enough to give the feeling a name.

In modern psychology, our ability to study feelings has become more practical. Researchers can study the influence of something from the subject’s past on them if they have not seen it for a long time. Unsurprisingly, if you find something again that you liked, you will have a surge of positive emotions.

This state of the art research informs advertisers who have caught a strong sense of nostalgia. It’s much easier to get someone to feel positive about something they’ve encountered and enjoyed before than to convince them to try something new.

Sure, it’s easy to get cynical and assume that this means we all consume trash and no one likes new things, but that’s not entirely true either. Advertisers flood us all the time with franchises that are new (or at least new to most of us). It reminds me that I still have to catch up on Westworld, Black Mirror and a million other shows I’ve never heard of before. However, nostalgia is a powerful force, and we now know that marketers have figured out how to use it, so it’s worth looking into. Just because you remember something from your past does not mean that the reboot will be good.

Why do we feel nostalgic? | TED-Ed


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