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Culture and crying : Prevalences and gender differences

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Author: Hemert, D.A. van · Vijver, F.J.R. van de · Vingerhoets, A.J.J.M.
Source:Cross-Cultural Research, November, 4, 45, 399-431
Identifier: 436487
doi: doi:10.1177/1069397111404519
Keywords: Psychology · Human · HOI - Human Behaviour & Organisational Innovations · BSS - Behavioural and Societal Sciences


Results of a cross-cultural study of adult crying across 37 countries are presented. Analyses focused on country differences in recency of last crying episode and crying proneness and relationships with country characteristics. Three hypotheses on the nature of country differences in crying were evaluated: (a) distress due to exposure to taxing conditions, (b) norms regarding emotional expressiveness, and (c) personality (at country level). Individuals living in more affluent, democratic, extraverted, and individualistic countries tend to report to cry more often. These indicators relate to freedom of expression rather than to suffering; therefore, our data provide support for a model that views country differences in crying as being connected with country differences in expressiveness and personality rather than in distress. Gender differences in crying proneness were larger in wealthier, more democratic, and feminine countries. Differences in the meaning of crying at individual level (usually viewed as a sign of distress) and country level (as a sign of expressiveness and personality) are discussed.