Tears: A Study of Human Emotional Stability

Last week I got my report card grades back and I started crying. After long contemplation, self-doubts and depression, this has led me to start questioning whether or not all this crying was healthy for me. Although crying may be considered as “perhaps the most human and universal of all relief measures” (Karl Menninger), how many of us are actually exactly sure about why we cry? Do you cry more than the average person? Sure, everybody cries. But the crying frequency can vary depending on age, culture, and regrettably yes – gender.

With this eye-opening realization, I decided to carry out a little experiment of my own. I made a survey consisting of three questions and sent it out to 34 of my friends. The three question were: how often do you cry, why do you cry and how do you think you cry comparing to an average person. To my surprise, the results left me feeling even more self-doubts. With the first question, 44% answered that they cried a few times a year, 35% said a few times a month, and up to 18% said that they never cry – but we all know the last ones are lying. To back up my firm believes, scientists have proven that only people older than 18 years can claim that they do not cry with validity (ISAC).

“Almost crying” by Paula Silva, under license of CC-BY-NC-ND

Then came my second question: why do they cry? While most the answers mentioned stress, school, and stress from school, there were a few results that left me wondering how people have it so easy – e.g. when memes aren’t fresh, etc.

The last question asked the survey respondents to rank their crying frequency on a scale from 1 to 10, 1 being less than the average person, and 10 being that tears are their only source of dehydration. Depending on how you look at it, you could lose water by crying but you can also drink your tears. Again, what surprised me is the number of people who might have underestimated their crying tendency, because almost a third of the responses believed they cried less than the average person, which was interesting considering how I then compared their results to that of actual published research – and as you most likely have guessed by now, surprised me.

According to a comprehensive study, the average female cries 3.5 times a month, and the average male cries 2.3 times a month. This accumulates up to 42 times a year for females, and 27.6 times a year. So this means that for a third of the people who did my survey believing that they cry less than the average person, the odds are pretty low that they were right statistically speaking.