Study Investigates Why People Cry When They Are Happy

Surbhi Chawla From Gizmodo India
Nov 13, 2014, 04.47 PM IST

Ever cried ‘tears of joy’ when you were really happy? A Yale study has revealed that tears of joy actually help people overcome strong positive emotions and crying allows them to recover from the situation.

Psychologist Oriana Aragon at the Yale University in the US said that when people are overwhelmed with strong positive emotions, they tend to cry, which help them to recover from these strong emotions better. She also said that these expressions help people to restore emotional equilibrium.

As part of the study, Aragon and her colleagues at Yale had participants witness some emotional scenarios such as cute babies or a weeping spouse who is reunited with her soldier husband returning from war. Their responses were then measured and it was found that people who express negative reactions to positive news could moderate intense emotions more quickly. It was also found that those people, who are most likely to cry at their child’s graduation, are most likely to express a desire to a cute baby’s cheeks.

The study has also pointed to some evidence that strong negative feelings may provoke positive expressions. For instance, when people are confronted with a difficult or frightening situation, nervous laughter occurs. People also tend to smile extreme sadness.

According to Aragon, “The new discoveries begin to explain common things that many people do but do not even understand themselves. These insights advance our understanding of how people express and control their emotions, which is importantly related to mental and physical health, the quality of relationships with others, and even how well people work together.”

The study was published in the journal Psychological Science.

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