620: Cry

A Thousand Things to Talk About
A Thousand Things to Talk About
620: Cry

When do you cry?

Full episode script

According to a 2002 study published in the journal Cognition and Emotion, female-identified individuals cry an average of 3.5 times per month, while male-identified individuals cry an average of 1.9 times a month. Internationally, rates vary even more widely, at least according to the 2011 article “Culture and Crying: Prevalences and Gender Differences” published in the journal Cross-Cultural Research. That study theorized that the fact that Sweden, Chile, and the US have higher rates of female crying than Nepal,, Ghana, and Nigeria may be explained by the fact that women tend to have a greater freedom of expression in developed countries.


No matter how often you cry or not, there’s plenty of questions about exactly what purpose crying may serve, if it helps or not, and if not crying is a sign of some kind of problem.


For example, some argue that a good cry will help you purge negative emotions. When you ask people to recall times in the past they’ve cried due to emotion and how they felt after, they’ll often report that the crying helped them improve their mood in the long term. Put people in research situations where emotional crying is induced with sad movies, however, and crying doesn’t seem to help at all, since moods tend to go downhill, rather than improve, with that cry.


That is, unless you ask people several hours or days after watching the sad movie. In which case, maybe it did help. There is also some research-based evidence that crying releases hormones that help you self-soothe and generally feel better.


But, if you’re hearing all of this and thinking that it’s weird that people cry at all… well, you’re not alone. So-called “‘tearlessness” is also a studied phenomenon, with one estimate saying that 8.6 percent of men and 6.5 percent of women in Dutch households had lost the ability to cry at all. And, to quote directly for the study:

Despite reduced empathy, less connection with others, and a more avoidant/less anxious attachment type, well-being is maintained in tearless people.

This script may vary from the actual episode transcript.