Imagined places of the past: the interplay of time and memory in the maintenance of place attachment

Michael Lomas, Eunice Ayodeji, Philip Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Place attachment describes the emotional connection that people hold with a physical space, and such bonds have been shown to be associated with higher levels of life satisfaction, as well as physical and mental well-being. Although a temporal element of place attachment is acknowledged, the exact nature of time’s role in such relationships is yet to be fully understood. The current study addressed this using qualitative interviews with nine long-term residents of an urban centre in Northwest England. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was applied to explore the underlying mechanisms through which time asserts its influence on place attachment. Analysis developed three interrelated super-ordinate themes: what time brings, accumulated attachment, and time as a dialectic. As time passes, life events, cultural changes, and physical transformation to the environment affect individuals’ interactions with place, and thus their relationship with it. Continued inhabitation leads to an accumulation of emotional salience. Ultimately, time interacts with human memory, offering individuals multiple perspectives through which to make sense of their present environment. Issues may then arise, as memory is heavily influenced by the passing of time. Consequently, present-day perceptions of the place’s past are often viewed through a prism of nostalgia, with implications for the person-place bond.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2618-2629
Number of pages12
JournalCurrent Psychology
Issue number3
Early online date15 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2024


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