Listening to the Past When the Present is Boring: Nostalgic Music as a Meaning-Regulator.
Swaluw, K. van der
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This research is aimed at investigating the meaning-regulating function of objectively determined nostalgic music. Boredom has previously been found to deprive one’s sense of meaning (i.e., existential value). Also, nostalgia has previously been found to instill meaning. Therefore it was expected that objectively determined nostalgic music would alleviate boredom. A pilot study was performed to distinguish a nostalgic from a non-nostalgic piece of music. In a first study, the nostalgic piece of music was expected to alleviate boredom. No such effect was found. However, explorative analyses in Study 1 revealed that boredom heightened perceptions of nostalgic value attributed to the nostalgic piece of music. A second study was performed to confirm the explorative findings of Study 1 and to examine whether boredom would also increase feelings of nostalgia. The second aim of Study 2 was to examine whether objectively determined (in the pilot study) nostalgic music would alleviate meaninglessness evoked by boredom. In Study 2, boredom increased feelings of nostalgia via meaninglessness. Most importantly, when participants felt meaningless, nostalgic music as a medicine increased participants’ sense of meaning. Objectively determined nostalgic music is an easy to implement and highly usable source in regulating boredom-evoked meaninglessness. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.