Nostalgic intergroup contact and intergroup relations: theoretical, empirical, and applied dimensions

Rhiannon N. Turner*, Sofia Stathi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
36 Downloads (Pure)


Recent research has highlighted the potential of nostalgic recall of intergroup contact as a means of enhancing intergroup relationships and tackling prejudice. In this article, we review the scarce but promising literature that integrates research on nostalgia and intergroup contact. We outline the mechanisms that explain the link between nostalgic intergroup encounters and improved intergroup attitudes and behavior. We further highlight the benefits that nostalgic contact reverie may have for intergroup relations – and beyond. We then discuss the potential of nostalgic intergroup contact as a strategy for real-world, prejudice reduction interventions. Finally, we draw on current research from the fields of nostalgia and intergroup contact to make suggestions for future research.

“… nostalgic memories … lead to a vivid sense of commonality [which] accelerates the process of acquaintance in a community where formerly only barriers may have existed.” [1, p. 454].

Nostalgia, “a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past” [ [2], p. 1266], is a bittersweet, yet predominantly positive emotion [3] that occurs frequently [4,5], and is conceptualized similarly across cultures [6∗]. An intrinsic characteristic of nostalgia is its sociality [5,7∗∗]. Indeed, many of nostalgia's positive consequences emerge as a function of meaningful past relationships that are made accessible during nostalgic reverie [8, 9, 10, 11]. In doing so, nostalgia promotes approach motivation, renders it more likely that people will perceive relationship goals as important and achievable, and enhances self-efficacy and optimism about establishing, maintaining and resolving conflict in relationships [12,13].

With these consequences in mind, we argue that nostalgia has excellent potential as a means of bolstering intergroup relationships. To explicate this, we review the burgeoning literature which draws a connection between nostalgia and intergroup contact, highlight the benefits this may have for intergroup relations, and rely on research from the nostalgia and intergroup contact fields to make suggestions for future directions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101585
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Opinion in Psychology
Early online date25 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


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