Nostalgia, a sentimental longing for a personally experienced and valued past, is a social emotion. It refers to significant others in the context of momentous life events and fosters a sense of social connectedness. On this basis, the authors hypothesized that (1) nostalgia promotes charitable intentions and behavior, and (2) this effect is mediated by empathy with the charity’s beneficiaries. Five studies assessed the effect of nostalgia on empathy, intentions to volunteer and donate, as well as tangible charitable behavior. Results were consistent with the hypotheses. Study 1 found that nostalgia increases charitable intentions. Study 2 showed that this salutary effect of nostalgia on charitable intentions is mediated by empathy (but not by personal distress). Studies 3 and 4 corroborated these finding for different charities and in diverse samples. Finally, study 5 demonstrated that nostalgia increases tangible charitable behavior. By virtue of its capacity to increase empathy, nostalgia facilitates prosocial reactions.
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