The relationship between nostalgia and coping during difficult times was explored in 2 empirical studies. In the first, 80 undergraduates, 60 women and 20 men, completed the Nostalgia Inventory, a measure of nostalgia proneness, the COPE Inventory, a dispositional measure of strategies for coping with stressful events, and the Childhood Survey, a survey of impressions of childhood experiences. Nostalgia proneness correlated with use of adaptive coping, including emotional social support, expressing emotions, turning to religion, and suppressing competing activities, and did not correlate with escapist or avoidance strategies, including denial, behavioral disengagement, and substance abuse. Nostalgia proneness was related positively to favorable emotional and behavioral childhood experiences and did not correlate with adverse experiences. Favorable impressions of childhood correlated positively with adaptive coping strategies and inversely with dysfunctional ones, whereas unfavorable childhood experiences correlated positively with dysfunctional coping. Regression analyses suggested that the relationship between nostalgia proneness and certain coping strategies may be mediated in part by childhood experiences. In a second study, 100 undergraduates, 86 women and 14 men, completed the Nostalgia Inventory, recalled autobiographical memories that illustrated how childhood is either special or similar to their present life, and rated their likely use of strategies in dealing with 2 hypothetical problems. Nostalgia proneness correlated with emotional and instrumental social coping and with the goal-directed strategies of planning, taking action, and positive reframing. Further research is recommended to explore the role of childhood memories in coping and to identify mechanisms that mediate the relationship between nostalgia and coping.

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