NOST-Ad-GIA: A Research Program on Nostalgia Advertising and Autobiographical Memory

Project: Research

Project Details


Nostalgia is a sentimental yearning for one’s unrecoverable idealized past (e.g., objects, close relations, life events) that presents itself as a mixed-valence bittersweet (albeit more positive) social emotion, common across cultures (Hepper et al., 2014; Sedikides et al., 2015). Nostalgia has been successfully used in advertising to market consumer products in diverse industry sectors, such as food, travel, leisure, automobiles, and movies (Merchant et al., 2013; Muehling & Pascal, 2011). In addition, nostalgia advertising can be effectively used to promote pro-social and health behaviours, such as donating to charity or seeking professional psychological help for depression (e.g., Ford & Merchant, 2010; Hussain & Alhabash, 2020).

Nostalgia-evoking advertisements are used to create an emotional connection between the consumer and the brand (or message) by evoking positive feelings related to autobiographical memories (i.e., memories about one’s life) about “the good old times” via an affect-transferring mechanism, in which the emotion attached to autobiographical memories is transferred to the advertisement, the brand, and the message (Muehling & Sprott, 2004). However, how this emotional cognitive mechanism takes place and what autobiographical memory principles contribute to it are largely unknown. In other words, our understanding about which autobiographical memories evoke nostalgia and how they do so in nostalgia advertising is still unclear.

In this program, I investigate the cognitive mechanisms and autobiographical memory processes involved in nostalgia advertising. The objective of this research program is to better understand how memory cues used in advertising trigger nostalgia-evoking autobiographical memories.

A better understanding about the cognitive and autobiographical memory mechanisms involved in how nostalgia emerges from remembering one’s personal past could provide us with the tools to develop a novel experimental paradigm to evoke nostalgia in marketing. This paradigm can be tested and used to design successful advertisements and messages that bring powerful and impactful nostalgia-evoking memories to mind. In this way, nostalgia can be used to promote behavioural change and encourage consumers to engage in positive, pro-social, sustainable, and healthy behaviours for themselves and their communities, further harnessing the power of nostalgia in advertising.
Effective start/end date01/01/202131/12/2025


  • nostalgia advertising
  • autobiographical memory
  • pro-social behaviour
  • sustainable behaviour
  • healthy behaviour


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