Krystine I. Batcho, Ph.D., is a professor at Le Moyne College, a licensed psychologist, and a regular contributor to Psychology Today. Her scholarly interests range from the impact of social media on psychological wellbeing to the role of memories in the development of self. Her current research on the psychology of nostalgia began with her introduction of the Nostalgia Inventory, the first measure for assessing how deeply people feel nostalgic. Her Inventory has been translated into multiple languages, made available as an app, and has inspired numerous research studies that have revealed the benefits of nostalgia.
What do I do best?
By taking the perspective of another, I understand problems from a variety of points of view. Being other-directed diversifies my thinking and helps me apply abstract knowledge to practical use. The empathy that comes with seeing the world from another’s vantage point motivates me to search for ways to enrich the lives of others.
What makes me the best version of myself?
My curiosity leads me to ask many questions that haven’t been asked or haven’t been framed in useful ways. Questions motivate me to test assumptions, to pursue ideas in creative directives, and to explore options for addressing situations with original approaches or strategies.
What are my aspirations?
In the long run, I hope that I will have made a positive impact that will continue long after I’m gone. In my work, I concentrate on meaningful objectives, hoping to accomplish sustained benefits by influencing others who will advance the efforts in their own unique ways.
My more immediate goals include furthuring my exploration of the psychology of nostalgia and sharing my findings in a book that will be meaningful to a diverse audience of readers.
My Biggest Success?
Developing the Nostalgia Inventory, an assessment tool for measuring nostalgia as a personality trait, was a turning point in my research. The Inventory ushered in a substantive shift in the concept of nostalgia by inspiring research that revealed the benefits of nostalgia. Professionally rewarding, this success has been all the more satisfying as it was accomplished while my son and daughter matured into uniquely successful and socially responsible individuals.
My Most Challenging Moment?
On one of my trips to Hawaii to attend a conference, my daughter asked me to accompany her on the famous mule ride down a 1,700-foot sea cliff to the isolated Kalaupapa peninsula on Molokai, where St. Damien had ministered to patients with Hansen’s disease (then referred to as leprosy). I had grown up with great esteem for the priest who had brought hope to those quarantined in Kalaupapa, knowing he could never return. But terrified of heights, I felt I could not possibly make the 1½ hour mule ride down the highest sea cliffs in the world. My decision to ride the trail affected me more deeply than I had expected. Reading about or watching videos of the trail and the isolated settlement could not convey the reality of being there. Confronting my own fear helped me sense, in a very small way, the fear endured by those brought to the settlement with no hope of returning home. The contrast between scenery more beautiful than one could imagine and the stark reality of banishment stirred feelings of deep loneliness, sadness, and tragedy—and yet also of the unbreakable spirit of those who fashioned a life in the harsh environment. Walking the paths walked by St. Damien, reinforced my resolve to never give up in the effort to make a positive difference in lives struggling against even overwhelming odds.
Two adages have strengthened me during difficult times. The maxim, “consider the source,” reminds me not to buckle under criticism or unfavorable commentary. Using constructive feedback to improve oneself or one’s efforts is valuable, but mean spirited or unfounded criticism can stifle creativity and suppress innovative avenues of thought. Trying to please everyone can cause someone to give up prematurely on an idea that has great potential.
The other observation that has been both a comfort and a guide is the famous Nathaniel Hawthorne quote, “this, too, will pass away.” In times of great stress or when facing obstacles or challenges that seem insurmountable, the realization of the inevitability of change with the passage of time gives great consolation. Remembering how fleeting time is can also serve as a sharp reminder to appreciate the present. Knowing that the present won’t last can motivate us to be engaged fully in our opportunities for happiness, relationships, and having a positive impact on others.
My Favorite People/Role Models?
On a professional level, I admire those who withstood opposition when they had discovered a truth not yet understood during their time. During the nineteenth century, physician Semmelweis discovered that antiseptic procedures saved lives. His observations conflicted with the established medical and scientific knowledge at that time, and he was rejected by the medical community, along with his ideas. He was committed to an asylum where he died after being beaten by guards.
On a personal level, I am inspired every day by the spirit and advice I gained from my parents who embodied the best of the “greatest generation.” In different ways, my son and daughter exemplify resilience and promise for a humane future in a high-tech world.
My Favorite Places/Destinations?
From the shore of Oahu one summer, I watched a group of honu (Hawaiian green sea turtles) swimming and discovered a peace that is difficult to find in our hectic lifestyle. I have tried to internalize it and take it with me wherever I go. In a state park near my home, there are places in the “old woods” where I have found quietude that refreshes one’s authentic soul.
My Favorite Products/Objects?
Among my favorite things are mementos. It isn’t important what type of object a keepsake is; what makes something treasured is that it reminds me of someone or some experience that holds great meaning for me. The more directly connected an object is to someone I admired and loved, the more I value it. Among my treasures are photos, books, jewelry, pieces of sports equipment and clothing. An old photo of my childhood home, a scarf my mother embroidered, a pendant my father gave me, a baseball mitt, and a horse bridle are all among the things that keep me connected to those who give my life meaning.
My Current Passions?
Helping people recognize their true worth and understand that they deserve to be happy is my passion. This goal guides and energizes my interactions with students, my research, and my posts on Psychology Today. I’m especially excited about a book I’m currently writing on the psychology of nostalgia.