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How nostalgic reverie for the pre-addicted self can facilitate behaviour change

March 11, 2021 at 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM

Audience:Staff and Faculty

The Past Can Help Change the Future: The Behavior Change Utility of Nostalgic Reverie

This session will be led by Dr. Michael Wohl from the Department of Psychology.

Behaviour change is hard. Every year, millions (in not billions) of people plan to change their behaviour. Most plans fail to produce a single change attempt. Additionally, a wide swath of people report no intention to change their unhealthy or addictive behaviours, resulting in significant harm to the individual. To date, a paucity of research that has illuminated means to facilitate readiness to change or motivate behavioural change. In this presentation, Dr. Michael Wohl will outline a program of research that has tests the behaviour change utility of a highlighting discontinuity between the present (addicted self) and past (non-addicted self)—a relationship driven by nostalgic revere (i.e., sentimental longing) for the non-addicted self. Discussion will focus on nostalgic reverie as a novel catalyst for behaviour change and how it can be used by treatment providers to help build momentum for change.

About the Researcher

Dr. Michael Wohl is a Professor and Graduate Chair in Psychology at Carleton University. Broadly speaking, he has two areas of research: 1) conflict resolution and 2) disordered gambling. In his Conflict Resolution Lab, work focuses on the causes and consequences of harmdoing at both the interpersonal (one person transgressing against another) and intergroup level (historical and contemporary harm experienced by members of one group at the hands of another group). Ultimately, Wohl’s work in this lab is oriented toward seeking means for forgiveness and reconciliation. In his Addiction Lab, work focuses on factors that contribute to addiction (e.g., gambling) and refusal to seek treatment. The majority of this work has focused on erroneous cognitions (e.g., perceptions of luck), craving, and contextual factors (e.g., socio-economics) as predictors of continued gambling behaviour. Recently, Wohl has examined why disordered gamblers are reluctant to seek professional help and means to motivate behavioural change (e.g., promoting nostalgic revere for the pre-addicted self). Dr. Wohl has published over 160 academic papers and reports. He is the receipt of, among other recognitions, the International Center for Responsible Gambling’s Research Achievement Award, and Carleton University’s Research Achievement Award, Graduate Mentorship Award, and Teaching Excellence Award. He was recently named a Fellow of the American Psychological Society and the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. To facilitate his research, Wohl has received funding from organization including, Canadian Foundation for Innovation, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Australian Research Council, Defense Research and Development Canada, and Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

Mental Health Speaker Series

This session is part of the Healthy Workplace Mental Health Speaker Series 2020/2021. Find out more.


To register for this session, please fill out the form below. More information will be sent to you via email closer to the session date.

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