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5 - The Perception of Crying in Women and Men: Angry Tears, Sad Tears, and the “Right Way” to Cry

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 August 2009

Leah R. Warner
The Pennsylvania State University
Stephanie A. Shields
The Pennsylvania State University
Ursula Hess
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Pierre Philippot
Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium
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Authors' Note

Portions of this chapter were presented in a poster at the meeting of the International Society for Research on Emotions in Cuenca, Spain, in July 2002. We thank Randy Cornelius, Ursula Hess, and Pierre Philippot for their valuable comments on the manuscript. We also thank the undergraduate research assistants involved in collecting data: Susie Balazik, Maegan Dillman, Traci Lynn Frye, Lauren Kleha, and Dan Petrosky. We are grateful to Alice Eagly for providing access to her data on national stereotypes.

Correspondence regarding this chapter should be addressed to Leah R. Warner, Department of Psychology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802. Email:

Cell phones. You never know what news a call might bring. And in a public place it can be difficult to get a handle on the roller-coaster of emotions that ensues. Chris is upset. News of the divorce is surprising, yet not totally unexpected. Making matters worse, the phone call comes at a restaurant while Chris sits with friends at the table, surrounded by a roomful of strangers. The news is too much. And then it happens – along with the growing anger, tears well up in Chris's eyes.

Adults' tears can be powerful elicitors of concern and sympathy. Tears can also elicit scorn or suspicion regarding the crying person's motives. Crying prompts others to pay attention, which makes tears a powerful form of persuasion.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2007

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