Reflecting on nostalgic, positive, and novel experiences increases state Openness

Hotchin, Victoria and West, Keon. 2021. Reflecting on nostalgic, positive, and novel experiences increases state Openness. Journal of Personality, 89(2), pp. 258-275. ISSN 0022-3506 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Personality change is a growing field of interest, but relatively few studies have examined causes of change in Openness. We investigated whether it is possible to influence state Openness, and through what mechanisms this effect may occur.

In two experiments (Study 1: N = 144, Mage = 36.4, 58% female, 88% White; Study 2: N = 269, Mage = 34.0, 60% female, 91% White), participants reflected on and wrote about a personal experience requested to be either: nostalgic; positive and novel (Study 1); positive or novel (Study 2); or ordinary. They rated the events for nostalgia, positivity, novelty, and sociality, and completed measures of state positive affect, self‐esteem, social connectedness, meaning in life, and state Openness.

Participants who recalled positive and/or novel events reported greater state Openness than those who recalled ordinary events. In Study 1, this also applied to those recalling nostalgic events. Event ratings of positivity (both studies), nostalgia and novelty (Study 2) independently predicted state Openness. State positive affect and self‐esteem were independent predictors in both studies, suggesting possible indirect paths.

Reflecting on nostalgic, positive, and novel experiences can increase state Openness. This finding may be useful for interventions targeting trait‐level change.

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Funding Information:
Economic and Social Research Council UK


intervention, nostalgia, novelty, Openness, personality change

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26 July 2020Accepted
28 August 2020Published Online
April 2021Published


Funding bodyFunder IDGrant Number
Economic and Social Research Council UKUNSPECIFIEDES/J500124/1

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Date Deposited:

01 Sep 2020 09:53

Last Modified:

26 Mar 2021 10:33

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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