Why We Cry

Crying isn’t the sure-fire, feel-good tonic it’s cracked up to be. Psychologists found that the benefits of tears depend entirely on the what, where and when of a particular crying episode.

Most people say that crying is cathartic, but if it is, why? Psychologists have found that crying isn’t the sure-fire, feel-good tonic it’s cracked up to be. They collected and analyzed detailed accounts of more than 3000 crying experiences, and found that the benefits of tears depend entirely on the what, where and when of a particular crying episode. Indeed, fully a third of the criers experience no elevated mood after crying, and one in ten feel worse following a crying spell. Criers do show calming effects like slower breathing, but they also experience a lot of unpleasant stress and arousal; their heartbeats go up, and they start to sweat.

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Shogo Hamada/Cornell University
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Image source: Pixabay
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