Across four studies, we tested whether the content of collective nostalgia has untapped utility for understanding intergroup relations. In Study 1a, we demonstrated variance in the content of the nostalgizing American Christians report—variance that influenced attitudes towards outgroups. Participants who reported longing for a more open society expressed less anti-immigration sentiments and less blatant prejudice against Muslims compared to those longing for a more homogeneous society. In Study 1b, we replicated these results using a representative sample of Poles, thus extending them to a different socio-political context. In Study 2, we demonstrated that the content of collective nostalgia experienced can be experimentally manipulated. Specifically, experimentally primed openness-focused nostalgia (relative to a control condition) weakened American Christians' anti-immigration sentiments (but not blatant prejudice against Muslims). Study 3 replicated the results of Study 2 with an improved experimental manipulation. Overall, the findings show significant effects that content of collective nostalgia has on anti-immigration sentiments as well as some indication that the content of collective nostalgia influences blatant intergroup prejudice. These results have theoretical relevance for the study of collective nostalgia (i.e., content matters) as well as practical relevance in demonstrating that variations in nostalgia-inducing rhetoric can shape intergroup attitudes.

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Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
Department of Psychology

Wohl, M, Stefaniak, A. (Anna), & Smeekes, A. (Anouk). (2020). Longing is in the memory of the beholder: Collective nostalgia content determines the method members will support to make their group great again. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 91. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2020.104044