In our macho-revering world, the idea of men showing excessive emotion is rarely acceptable. On the contrary, guys are supposed to be constantly composed. And even if you’re internally freaking out, you better not show it by shedding a tear. Well these stereotypical masculine norms are now being challenged by a new study published in Motivation and Emotion. According to researchers, having a good cry can have it’s health perks.
Many of you may be skeptical — questioning what could be the point of breaking down and crying? What good can that possibly do? You’re not alone in this mentality. Even researchers have failed to really uncover the function of crying, especially since we’re the only species on earth that tears up. Some have speculated that it’s a cry for support or way to strengthen relationships, while others thing it’s mainly an outlet to release emotion. But past research has produced contrasting results about how well your waterworks affect your mood. Many studies revealed that crying does provide emotional relief while others say it puts a damper on your mood following an emotional event.
These remaining questions were the driving force of the recent study conducted at the University of Tilburg in the Netherlands. Researcher Asmir Gračanin sought to deconstruct these discrepancies. To approach the topic differently, Gračanin observed both the immediate and delayed effects of crying on subjects’ mood.
In the experiment, subjects were shown classic tear-inducing movies, La vita è bella and Hachi: A Dog’s Tale. Of the 60 participants, 28 cried and 32 did not. Following the screening, they were asked to assess their mood, first immediately, then 20 minutes, and finally 90 minutes after. Unsurprisingly, the non-criers didn’t experience a change in mood after the event. Contrastingly, the participants who cried felt really low after the films. But within 20 minutes, their moods returned to their pre-film level. After 90 minutes, those who cried actually had a higher mood than they did before the films.
So what did this tell researchers? According to Gračanin, “After the initial deterioration of mood following crying, it takes some time for the mood not only to recover but also to be lifted above the levels at which it had been before the emotional event,” reports Springer.
This could be due to the fact that the drop in emotion followed by a return to equilibrium may make people feel like they’re in a much better mood after they’ve shed a few tears. But the researchers of this study are pretty sure that having a good cry is ultimately beneficial in coping with and moving past an emotionally stressful event.
So the next time you feel that welling from behind your tear ducts (even if it’s just because the ending of Marley & Me really got to you) don’t be afraid to let a few slide. Not only is it totally fine for a dude to cry, but science has proven it’s important for emotional health and well-being.
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