chapter  17
14 Pages

Nostalgia as Enabler of Self Continuity

I n 1969, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young released their self-titled album con-taining the classic song “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.” A particularly striking lyric from this song recommended: “Don’t let the past remind us of what we are not now.” This evocative line suggests a question with far-reaching social psychological implications. How does a person’s sense of the past contribute to (or detract from) the perceived continuity of his or her identity? This chapter entertains that question. We are concerned with the continuity within or between two fundamental sources of identity: the individual and collective selves. In particular, we focus on the temporal continuity between individual selves, between individual and collective selves, and between collective selves. We begin by defining the two types of self, specifying their possible relations, and asking how the seeming continuity within or between them is maintained. We proceed to argue that nostalgia is an important mechanism that enables this continuity, and we support our argument with a review of the empirical literature.