The 5 reasons why we cry

  • Living
  • Monday, 29 Aug 2022

Researchers have now presented the five reasons for emotional tears: loneliness, powerlessness, excessive demands, harmony and media consumption. Photo: Jens Schierenbeck/dpa

Loneliness, powerlessness, excessive demands, harmony and media consumption are the five reasons why we cry, according to researchers studying the unique way in which humans cry for emotional reasons.

Psychologists from the Universities of Ulm in Germany and Sussex in England have now broken down human tears into five categories based on the consideration that emotional crying always occurs when basic psychological needs are either not fulfilled or very intensively satisfied.

Writing in the scientific journal Motivation and Emotion, the psychologists say that loneliness is caused by an unfulfilled need for closeness, and can thus lead to tears. They also include tears due to lovesickness or homesickness in this category.

Tears of joy, on the other hand, occur after the intense satisfaction of the need for harmony – at a wedding, for example. As an example of tears due to powerlessness or impotence, they cite the reaction to news of a death.

Emotional tears can be clearly distinguished from so-called basal tears, which keep the eye moist and protect it. The researchers also left out tears as a reflex to cold, wind or when cutting onions in their study.

To find out about human crying, the researchers asked people in two online surveys about the reasons for emotional tears. In another experiment, test subjects were asked to keep a daily diary. This showed, for example, that younger people cried more often than older people due to excessive demands.

The psychologists see the study as a basis for further research on the phenomenon of emotional tears.

So far, there has been a lack of knowledge about the influence of tears on whether one person supports another, said co-author Johannes Keller, head of the Department of Social Psychology at the University of Ulm.

Identifying the five most common reasons for crying could help answer these questions in the future. – dpa

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