Eyes wide open.

Nostalgia Trip


While surfing the web, I came across an interesting article by Psychology Today on why we seem to have a nostalgic view of the past. According to the article, researchers have found that the mind is biased towards positive emotional experiences–as negative ones fade faster. “People have an inherent bias to view their experiences in a positive light,” says Dr. Richard Walker, assistant professor of psychology at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina.

Take the image of the “good ol'” American west: the frontier days of badge-sporting sheriffs rescuing damsels in petticoats, gun-slinging (Eastwood-esque) cowboys, wild Indians and tumbleweeds blowing in the wind. I have news for you folks; although this image is rampant within the American consciousness, it’s completely fictional. It’s how we want to remember the past, not how it actually happened.

This tidbit got me thinking about those weary of creative destruction (read: globalization). Decay of the old and evolution of the new can, in fact, instigate a frenzy for past ways, but are these concerned, anti-globalization activists on a sentimental nostalgia trip? I mean, our brain only want us to remember the good of the past, so it’s very likely these proponents are clamoring for an idyllic past that never really existed. These “good ol’ days”, are they even real?

This positive past phenomenon can aid in explaining why some cling so tightly to the past. By unconsciously omitting the negative outcomes or adverse consequences, I can understand why one would cling to precedent. It’s a new twist to an old phrase: “If we don’t realize it’s broke, don’t fix it.”

posted under Econ488

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