Cry - Several factors play a role in an individual's propensity to cry. Gender differences in crying, for example, have been explored for decades and across the world, and all of the studies reached the same conclusion: Women cry more than men.
In the 1980s, biochemist William H. Frey, PhD, found that women cry an average of 5.3 times a month, while men cry an average of 1.3 times per month, with crying defined as anything from moist eyes to full-on sobbing. Those averages still appear to be about the same, suggests newer research, including work by Lauren Bylsma, PhD, of the University of Pittsburgh (Journal of Research in Personality, 2011).
Biologically, there may be a reason women cry more than men: Testosterone may inhibit crying, while the hormone prolactin (seen in higher levels in women) may promote it. But a desire to cry is not all nature. A study of people in 35 countries found that the difference between how often men and women cry may be more pronounced in countries that allow greater freedom of expression and social resources, such as Chile, Sweden and the United States. Ghana, Nigeria and Nepal, on the other hand, reported only slightly higher tear rates for women (Cross-Cultural Research, 2011). Lead study author Dianne Van Hemert, PhD, a senior researcher at the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research, says that people in wealthier countries may cry more because they live in a culture that permits it, while people in poorer countries — who presumably might have more to cry about — don't do so because of cultural norms that frown on emotional expression.
Crying may also reflect attachment styles, research suggests. In her book "Seeing Through Tears: Crying and Attachment" (Routledge, 2005), psychotherapist Judith Kay Nelson, PhD, summarizes past research and concludes that securely attached people are more comfortable expressing emotions and cry in ways that are considered normal and healthy, while those with insecure attachment may cry inappropriately — with easily activated, difficult-to-soothe tears. More recently, researchers from Tilburg University have found that people with "dismissive" attachment styles — or those who tend to avoid close relationships with others — were less likely to cry and tried harder to inhibit their tears than people with other attachment styles (Social Behavior and Personality, 2012). The study also found that people with "preoccupied" styles — or those who might be clingy and overly dependent on others — cried more often than securely attached people. Women of all attachment styles cried more than men.
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