Movies | November 12, 2020 2:32 pm

The Scientific Reason Why Pop Culture Nostalgia Makes You Feel Better

You're not the only one who's been watching decades-old movies in quarantine

TV nostalgia
Watching TV shows or movies from decades ago has been proven to make us feel better.
Lambert via Getty Images

If you’re anything like us, you’ve no doubt spent the majority of quarantine rewatching old movies and TV shows you’ve already seen countless times. And as a new piece in The New York Times points out, there’s a reason for that: psychologists say that nostalgia from decades-old pop culture is a healthy coping mechanism during times of stress.

According to Dr. Wing Yee Cheung, an associate professor in psychology at the University of Winchester in England who studies nostalgia, watching old movies can elevate moods, boost confidence, and increase optimism — something that’s sorely needed in trying times like these.

“We feel that we have lost footing at the present time, and we gain some comfort by taking a step back and revisiting something that reminds us of a time that we used to feel more connected with other people,” Dr. Cheung told the publication. “It gives you energy to cope with what is going on now and move forward.”

The psychological benefits to streaming an old favorite aren’t fleeting, either. As the Times notes, “Dr. Lasana Harris, an assistant professor of psychology at University College London, said that the psychological benefits of getting lost in the plot of an old, favorite TV show or movie can last anywhere from a few minutes to a day.”

“It changes the narrative you’re constantly telling yourself — reminding yourself you do have people who love and care for you even if you haven’t had a hug in a while,” Dr. Harris said.