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Crying behavior in the human adult

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  • HealthPartners Institute
... None of the prior work comprises the exact constellation of categories that we consider crucial. Even though one in four crying episodes was media-related in our studies, this category is only considered in three prior taxonomies (Frey et al., 1983;Kraemer & Hastrup, 1986;Young, 1937). Additionally, some categories of former taxonomies appear thematically heterogeneous to us. ...
... Vingerhoets' and colleagues (1997) third factor comprises tears due to physical pain as well as due to seeing other people suffer and making people disappointed. The category 'interpersonal issues' from Frey et al. (1983) also subsumes different triggers. The same applies to Young's (1937) disappointment category, which summarizes tears due to a failed exam and the loss of a loved one. ...
... On the one hand, crying from this category seems to be associated with needsatisfaction, which would suggest no elevated prevalence in clinical samples. On the other hand, empirical findings showed that women with depression symptoms reported frequent crying when watching TV/movies (Frey et al., 1983). ...
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Human beings are probably the only creatures with a capacity to shed emotional tears. While prior work has mostly used data-driven approaches to identify situational antecedents of adult crying, we present a theory-based taxonomy. Assuming that crying is preceded by the frustration or satisfaction of psychological needs, we postulate that the most common antecedents of crying can be organized into five categories—that is, the Five Reasons to Cry (FRC): loneliness, impotence, overload, harmony, and media. Testing our assumptions in a retrospective study (N = 720, pre-registered) and a thirty-day electronic diary study (N = 91) showed that (i) crying episodes could be reliably assigned to the FRC, (ii) the theorized relations to frustrated/satisfied psychological needs emerged, and (iii) the categories were systematically related to subjective well-being, indicating their criterion validity. In sum, this research provides a valid taxonomy of common situational antecedents of adult emotional crying.
... Many studies have found that people reported feeling better after crying (e.g., Becht & Vingerhoets, 2002;Bindra, 1972;Bylsma et al., 2008;Frey et al., 1983). One possible driver of this positive effect is that tears release endorphins and oxytocin, hormones that are useful for pain relief and improvement of mood (Gračanin et al., 2018). ...
... In line with many previous studies (e.g., Becht & Vingerhoets, 2002;Fischer et al., 2004;Frey et al., 1983;Sharman et al., 2019;van Hemert et al., 2011;Williams & Morris, 1996), we found robust gender differences in emotional tears, according to which women cry significantly more than men. More intriguingly, we found that men from more gender-empowered societies, proxied by the share of women participating in the labor force, are more likely to cry than men from societies with less gender empowerment. ...
... We also found that age is positively and significantly associated with the probability of crying in all the specifications. While Frey et al. (1983) found no such association, Denckla et al. (2014) found that older people cry more, suggesting that human proneness to crying continues developing until old age. Several other studies have documented findings on stronger reaction to the emotional situations of older people (e.g., Kunzmann & Gruhn, 2005;Seider et al., 2011;Sze et al., 2012). ...
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Previous psychological studies on emotional crying have overwhelmingly relied on self-reported data from individuals’ recollections of their own experiences. Apart from the bias that arises from faulty recollection, there is no incentive for an individual to truthfully reveal his or her own experiences in such surveys. In this paper, we address the methodological limitations associated with self-reporting and non-sufficient emotional elicitors, by exploring data on gold medalists of all 450 individual events at the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympic Games at the end of the medalists’ respective competitions and during the medal ceremonies. We find that age, gender, geographical region, belonging to the host country, religious fractionalization, and stereotypic gender roles (proxied by labor force participation rate of women in the athlete’s home country) are likely to be prominent predictors of crying. Thus, our results suggest that emotional crying is not only a biological feature, but also a cultural phenomenon.
... Most people weep occasionally in adulthood, females much more often than males, but the individual differences are huge. In fact, the frequency of weeping may be the largest psychological sex difference, where females weep between four (Frey et al. 1983) and seven times more often . Likewise, females tend to weep for longer periods than men and tend to be more prone to flowing tears and sobbing, whereas males more often become lachrymose without actually shedding tears (Bindra 1972). ...
... Thus, people do not always weep when they are sad, and they do sometimes weep for quite different reasons. In a sample of 800 weeping episodes in typical women, 49% were associated with sadness, 21% with happiness, 10% with anger, and 7% with sympathy, and the remaining 13% were rather evenly distributed across anxiety, fear, and "other" (Frey et al. 1983). Inferred causes for crying in infancy include fatigue, hunger, fear, and loneliness (Catherine and Schonert-Reichl 2011), while self-reported reasons for adult crying include problems with interpersonal relations, sad thoughts, and media. ...
... Inferred causes for crying in infancy include fatigue, hunger, fear, and loneliness (Catherine and Schonert-Reichl 2011), while self-reported reasons for adult crying include problems with interpersonal relations, sad thoughts, and media. Media refers mainly to fiction, such as movies and TV series, and accounts for about one third of all weeping episodes for both sexes (Frey et al. 1983). Four factors in particular should be considered in order to understand group differences in crying, namely, the exposure to emotional stimuli, the appraisal of these stimuli, social learning, and the threshold for beginning to cry (Vingerhoets et al. 2009, p. 451). ...
Chapter
... Historically, researchers have early on recognized that individuals shed tears due to positive reasons, next to the more prominent experience of shedding tears due to sadness or frustration (Borgquist, 1906;Lund, 1930;Young, 1937;Löfgren, 1966;Bindra, 1972;Frey, Hoffman-Ahern, Johnson, Lykken, & Tuason, 1983;Frey, 1985;Kottler, 1996). For example, surveying students, Bindra identified a category of elation including situations such as reunions, reciprocation of love, or aesthetic stimuli among the more negative categories of dejection and anguish. ...
... Specifically, tears due to aesthetic stimuli such as nature, music, or poems have been mentioned rather frequently (Bindra, 1972;Braud, 2001;Damen, 1999;Hoffman et al., 2013;Kottler, 1996;Lund, 1930;Tan & Frijda, 1999). In addition, many scholars identified aspects that involve increased communality or social bonding such as reunions, weddings or union (Bindra, 1972;Braud, 2001;Damen, 1999;Denckla et al., 2014;Frey et al., 1983;Hoffman et al., 2013;Kottler, 1996;Löfgren, 1966;Murube et al., 1999;Tan & Frijda, 1999;Vingerhoets, 2013). Other more frequently mentioned aspects seem to contain particular achievements (Denckla et al., 2014;Hoffman et al., 2013;Vingerhoets, 2013), or tears of laughter (Hoffman et al., 2013;Lund, 1930;Young, 1937). ...
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Although several scholars acknowledge the existence of tears of joy, there is little systematic theoretical or empirical evidence on how positive tears are experienced, what elicits them, what actions or impulses they motivate in the crier, how they differ from tears of sadness or distress and whether there are different types. We systematically investigated these issues and drafted a first taxonomic model of positive tears. Drawing on more than 1500 reports of positive tears and including 13124 participants from 40 diverse countries and 24 languages, the studies employed a strong mixture of quantitative and qualitative techniques. The final results showed evidence of the occurrence of positive tears and found four qualitatively different types and profiles that we termed achievement, beauty, affection, and amusement tears. Achievement tears are often shed in contexts of extraordinary performance or when someone overcomes an obstacle and often include feelings of pride. Beauty tears occur commonly in situations of overwhelming elegance or beauty, including nature, music or visual arts, and feature feelings of awe or experiencing chills. Affectionate tears are often experienced in situations including unexpected kindness or exceptional love such as wedding ceremonies or reunions and often feature feelings of warmth, increased communality, and feeling touched or compassionate. Finally, amusement tears are shed when something especially funny occurs and include feelings of amusement or lightness and the inclination to laugh or giggle. We also investigated cross-cultural and inter-individual differences with regard to these categories and discuss limitations and implications of our taxonomy of positive tears.
... Across two measurements in 1981 and 1996, more than half of all crying events for males fitted the description "red eyes and a tear or two" but only one third of events for females, while sobbing, shaking, and bawling constituted more than half of all crying events for females but only one sixth for males (Lombardo et al. 2001). Likewise, 71% of males' crying episodes featured watery eyes, but only about half of females' episodes, according to a diary study (Frey et al. 1983). ...
... Blubbering and sobbing are mainly characterized by sounds produced by airflow through the respiratory passage, more specifically convulsive inhaling and exhaling, but may also include softer vocal sounds. Sobbing is specifically related to the irregular and interrupted breathing that is typical of more intense crying and which constitutes around 10-15 percent of all crying episodes (Frey et al. 1983). This proportion may be substantially larger in females (Lombardo et al. 2001). ...
Chapter
Synonyms Crying diversity; Crying versatility Definition Qualitatively different forms of weeping and/or shedding tears. The range of expressions of emotion associated with shedding of tears from the eyes.
... release of emotion or tension (Breuer & Freud, 1895/1974Greenacre, 1965;Groen, 1957;Löfgren, 1966;McCrank, 1983). Similarly, interpersonal psychotherapy approaches (IPT) would likely see patient crying during a psychotherapeutic session as an opportunity to facilitate the expression of affect and process the emotional experience. ...
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The goal of this clinical practice review is to assess the current state of the theoretical and empirical literature on emotional crying (i.e., crying in response to an emotional stimulus), a topic that has received surprisingly limited attention of behavioral scientists and clinicians. Although the empirical research on emotional crying remains in a nascent state, we draw upon the existing scientific knowledge to provide preliminary suggestions for clinicians on how to interpret and respond to crying in clinical contexts. We also identify research gaps and provide recommendations for further research to improve our understanding of this intriguing and still poorly understood human behavior. We suggest that a better understanding of individual differences in crying behavior and the postulated intraindividual and interindividual functions of crying is of critical importance for clinicians, given its frequent occurrence and notable associations with emotional and social functioning. An improved characterization of this important phenomenon will lead to improvements in clinical assessment, treatment planning, and psychotherapy interventions. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).
... For example, crying-the most common incident in our sample-is a common expression of emotion among adults. Specifically, on average adults cry or tear-up between five to eight times a month (Bylsma, Croon, Vingerhoets, & Rottenberg, 2011;Frey, 1983). Our data, then, do suggest that, overall, the base rate of adverse effects for participants in legal psychology research is low-or rare. ...
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Ethics committees (ECs) regulate research activities to maintain research participants’ autonomy and to protect them from harm and injury. No research to date attempted to establish how much risk is involved in social science research. Using a survey approach, we set out to estimate the risk of being involved in an incident for research participants in legal psychology and assessed researchers’ views of ECs. Fifty‐nine of 188 respondents (31%) stated that they had experienced one or more incidents with a participant. The estimated risk of being involved in an incident was 1‐3 per 10,000 participants, which according to biomedical standards defines a rare risk. Although some researchers were satisfied with their EC, the general tenor was one of discontent due to conservative decision‐making, lacking expertise, and overstepping demands. Whether ECs succeed in protecting participants from loss of autonomy, harm and injury is unknown but is open to empirical research.
... In the light of these data, weeping appears to be a primal and important human behavior that deserves more attention. Bekker and Vingerhoets, 2001, Bylsma et al., 2011a, Esposito et al., 2015, Frey et al., 1983, Johnston et al., 2014, Miceli and Castelfranchi, 2003, Nasr and Davis, 2015, Vingerhoets and Scheirs, 2000, Vingerhoets et al., 2016 ...
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Most animals can cry but only humans have psychoemotional shedding of tears, also known as “weeping”. The aim of this review is to analyze and discuss the available data on the function and significance of weeping. It emerged that weeping is a behavior distinct from crying. Crying is the immediate reaction to pain or anger, it is not always associated with shedding tears, and indicates a peculiar and shocking change in behavior. Weeping is a more complex phenomenon: it is a behavior that induces empathy perhaps with the mediation of the mirror neurons network, and influences the mood through the release of hormones elicited by the massage effect made by the tears on the cheeks, or through the relief of the sobbing rhythm. It also emerged from the present review that weeping is not a “mild” or “weak” response to stress, but that it is a strong behavior with positive effects on health and social interaction.
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Three hundred and sixty million years ago, the crosopterygian fishes, either as a result of the ecological pressure of other animals or because of drastic climatic changes in their environment, evolved into amphibians. Amongst the many changes undergone by these animals was the formation of the lacrimal apparatus, the function of which was to maintain a moist eye and to avoid a dry eye. This apparatus developed in different ways in the various terrestial species. Throughout human evolution, the structure of the lacrimal system has changed very little; the most important change occurred in prehistoric times with the appearance of affective lacrimation, which can be viewed as an unconscious attempt to solicit help when in a state of fear, solitude, or desperation. Darwin [1] hypothesized that weeping was brought about by the mechanical compression of the lacrimal glands when crying. Montagu [2] believed that tearing was originally a reflex to keep the nasopharynx moist when sobbing. García de la Torre [3] saw it as being a characteristic result of nervous tension. Frey et al. [4] regarded it as a means of eliminating some biological products which enter the blood system when emotions are aroused. At a later date, another type of outwardly directed emotional tearing appeared, accompanying more sublime emotions (love, beauty, feelings, mysticism).
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Vor 360 Millionen Jahren entwickelten sich die Crosopterygian-Fische wegen des ökologischen Druckes durch andere Tiere oder wegen drastischer klimatischer Veränderungen in ihrem Lebensraum zu Amphibien. Zu den zahlreichen Veränderungen, die diese Tiere durchliefen, gehört auch die Ausbildung eines Tränenapparats. Dieser entwickelte sich bei den verschiedenen auf dem Land lebenden Spezies auf unterschiedliche Weise, hatte aber immer die Funktion, das Auge feucht zu halten und ein trockenes Auge zu verhindern.
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