A study recently conducted in the Netherlands suggests that the emotional benefits of crying are not nearly as great as we’ve come to believe. What? I know. For this study, which you can view online in the Journal of Research in Personality, 97 women were asked to keep journals of their moods and crying episodes. (Women be crying!) Only about one third of the 1,004 crying episodes resulted in a reported improvement in mood. Huh.
Furthermore, the study suggests that those who cried the hardest, but not the longest, got the greatest bang for their buck. In the end, however, lead author Jonathan Rottenberg believes that the benefits people get from crying have more to do with the social framework in which said crying occurs.
Via The Body Odd:
Rather than encouraging people to cry, it makes more sense, he suggests, to encourage them to bolster their social networks. “When crying helps it’s likely not because of the tears but because it recruits social support and draws attention to important problems,” explains Rottenberg.
On the other hand, there are several other studies that suggest crying not only purges us emotionally, but actually restores physiological balance when the body is under stress. I, for one, know that crying helps me feel better after a fellow breaks my heart or I watch a particularly poignant episode of “Gossip Girl.” And I know that’s not affected by social factors, because I would rather masturbate with a cheese grater than ever cry in front of another person. Ever. So cry away if it makes you feel better, but maybe make some friends, too. That way, all your bases will be covered.