How long ago were the “good old days”? Comparing the prevalence of nostalgia in YouTube comments on music videos from recent versus distant decades

Publication Name

Applied Cognitive Psychology


Research on motives for using social media suggests competing hypotheses regarding how far back in time people vicariously travel to experience nostalgia online. Automated text analyses of user comments on 56 YouTube videos featuring Billboard Magazine's top 30 songs of the year from the 1950–2019 period identified clusters of co-occurring words suggesting nostalgia. Boolean operators transformed the word clusters into sentence structures conveying nostalgia [e.g., (“miss” and ((“young” and “man”) or “days” or “times”)) → “I miss those days when I was a young man”]. Analysis of 37,217 comments revealed that the percentage expressing nostalgia was higher for videos from the 2000s–2010s compared to the 1950s–1980s. Social media has made instant online access to the recent past a normal part of daily life, making users more prone to expressing nostalgia toward relatively recent experiences.

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