Which is another way of saying, as Priceonomics sums it up, that nostalgia, like so much else, can be “inherited.” You may have your mom’s nose; you may also end up with her love of The Police. My daughter may end up, through a combination of free will and cultural osmosis, a fan of the pop confections inflicted on the world by one Britney Spears.
I am so, so sorry.
What the research also means, on a more collective level, is that there is a psychological reason that “Hey Ya” will inevitably be bringing people to the dance floors of the weddings of 2040—and that only part of that reason can be attributed to humanity’s ongoing desire to shake it like a Polaroid picture. Just as nostalgia tends to confer more nostalgia, popularity also tends to build on itself: Once a song makes it to the top of the charts, the memories people associate with it help to keep it in our cultural consciousness. There’s a good chance your grandchildren will roll their eyes at the Black-Eyed Peas; there’s also a chance, though, that some day in the distant future, they’ll fire up an ancient MP3 player, summon a hologram of Fergie and her crew, and boogie down in the hopes that tonight really will be a good night.