If you ever get the warm-and-fuzzies during this time of year, that nostalgic feeling could actually motivate you to give charitably, according to a new study.
The study, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, shows that feelings of nostalgia are able to "increase self-esteem, boost perceptions of meaning in life, and foster a sense of social connectedness," authors wrote in the study, which could therefore translate into a greater inclination to give.
To test the theory that nostalgia can actually boost giving, the researchers from Sun Yat-Sen University, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the University of Southampton had study participants think about a nostalgic event that had happened in their lives.
Then, the researchers presented some charitable options to them -- for example, young victims of an earthquake, or kids who live in a rural area of China. They measured the likelihood of the study participants' donating to or volunteering on behalf of these causes.
"Nostalgia increases empathy-based charitable intentions and behaviors," study researcher Dr. Tim Wildschut, a senior lecturer at the University of Southampton, said in a statement published on PhysOrg.com. "It is encouraging to learn that people can mine their nostalgic memories and derive from this a feeling of empathy for the suffering of others."
In addition, past research suggests that nostalgia is also good for our own mental well-being. Researchers from University of Southampton published work in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science to find that the more people looked upon their past fondly, the more they felt they had meaning in their lives, according to MedIndia.
Feeling nostalgic also combated feelings of loneliness, researchers found.
And it turns out, when people choose food products and TV shows that remind them of their childhood, it's because it stirs up nostalgic feelings that help them feel like they belong, according to a study in the Journal of Consumer Research, the State Press reported.
"We prefer nostalgic products when we have a higher need to belong," study researcher Katherine Loveland of Arizona State University told The State Press. "If you do have that high need to belong, consuming nostalgic products does make you feel better."