Based on research by Gračanin, Asmir, Vingerhoets, A. J., Kardum, I., Zupčić, M., Šantek, M., & Šimić, M. written by Mara Rowcliffe, BS
Does having a good cry help us feel better?
Psychologists from Tilburg University, Croatia, studied the effects of crying on someone’s overall mood. They instructed 60 male and female students to watch two movies. The two movies chosen for the experiment were ones that had previously elicited tearful reactions during their pilot study. Of their participants, 28 individuals cried during the movie, whereas 32 did not. They assessed the moods of all participants before watching, immediately following, and again at twenty minutes and 90 minutes after the film viewing.
Results indicated that right after seeing the movies, the non-criers’ mood was unchanged. Those who cried during the film experienced an immediate increase in negative mood afterwards. However, twenty minutes later their mood rebounded to its previous level from before watching the film. Ninety minutes later, their moods actually increased and were even better than before watching the movies whereas non-criers didn’t significantly change from before the film started.
Being emotional and crying in response to a film, may lift our mood higher sometime afterward than where we started, but why? It’s still a mystery. But don’t be afraid. Cry. You may find you feel better!
Gračanin, A., Vingerhoets, A. J., Kardum, I., Zupčić, M., Šantek, M., & Šimić, M. (2015). Why crying does and sometimes does not seem to alleviate mood: a quasi-experimental study. Motivation and Emotion, 1-8.