Researcher ORCID Identifier

Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Second Department

Media Studies

Reader 1

Theodore Bartholomew

Reader 2

Ruti Talmor

Reader 3

Jennifer Ma


This thesis explored the relationship between nostalgia, film, and coping mechanisms,

using both media theory and psychological lenses. Nostalgia, a concept with roots in both media theory and psychology, is best defined as homesickness for a time rather than a place. Nostalgia, when combined with film, leads to the concept of “comfort watches”, a scarcely researched topic. From a psychological standpoint, research suggests that nostalgia and media usage are commonly used coping mechanisms, yet there has been little to no research combining the two. The psychological study included in this thesis was conducted online in the United States using 83 participants aged 18-30 years to determine if there is a relationship between stress and the use of comfort films a coping mechanism. The participants filled out a series of questionnaires measuring type/era of comfort film, stress, nostalgia proneness, media usage, and use of escapist coping strategies. The study found a significant positive relationship between an individual’s stress level and the age at which they first watched the comfort movie they selected. Additionally, a positive relationship between self-distraction as a coping mechanism and comfort film usage was found. An exploratory analysis also found a significant positive correlation between nostalgia and denial as a coping mechanism that was not predicted. Lastly, the analysis found that participants watched films for comfort significantly more during the COVID-19 pandemic in comparison to before the COVID-19 pandemic.