Christopher Halliwell

Secondary Education Physics, Mississippi State University

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What is the advantage of evolving the ability to cry?

Is it simply a result of evolving the ability for complex emotions?

  • Mar 20 2013: What evidence do you have that we evolved the ability to cry? Can you prove we didn't always have that ability? Just speaking to science, never religion.
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      Mar 20 2013: This is a great question. There seems to be an implied assumption that all abilities and features possessed by humans and other living creatures must have "evolved" and must have played some role for "survival of the fittest". This statement seems to be as unfalsifiable as the implied assumption that all creatures we see with all abilities they have have been "created".

      But what if crying is one of those numerous random mutations that have no advantages for survival whatsoever and, eventually, will disappear or just stay there because it does not lead to extinction either?
      • Mar 20 2013: Arkady, I mostly agree, from my perspective, science does not prove evolution and religion does not prove its position. However, our tears do wash unwanted things out of our eyes. By what medical specialists claim, we need our eyes to remain moist or bad stuff happens.

        My question is, could eyes do without moisture constantly? I will do a little research on the next part and that is, do our tear ducts supply the constant moisture needed for our eyes.
        That's something I never thought about before.

        Have a good evening Arkady,


        Ya made me think, thank you. :)
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        Mar 20 2013: I thought of the same thing as Jim.

        If you've ever had something in your a lash or a small speck of something, your eyes well up with tears right away to get the foreign object out.

        Could sadness be a foreign object in our mind's eye.......and therefore the brain creates tears to "let go" of this foreign object, that is, our sadness?

        I personally have laughed so hard that I have cried. And I have seen others do so as well.
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          Mar 21 2013: I understand the function of tears. But what's the function of emotional crying when there is nothing wrong with the eyes?
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          Mar 21 2013: Mary,
          What you are suggesting seems very consistant with scientific research, which indicates that crying and laughing may be emotionally healing.Supposedly, based on what I have explored on this topic, the same kind of healing endorphins are released in the body/mind when we cry and/or laugh.

          You ask...."But what's the function of emotional crying when there is nothing wrong with the eyes?"

          It feels like a just FEELS good when it is needed. I don't think it's a matter of "evolving the ability to cry". I think it is simply a matter of allowing a natural process to happen.
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        Mar 20 2013: Arkady, dont you think if tear glands and crying are random mutations, then how are tears present in all humans? Humans prefer to have tears, just based on the prevalence and survival of Tears. Have you ever heard of a person with no tear glands? You probably can find some on google, but they are infinitesimal. I believe It is safe to say that tears were a very primitive terrestrial adaption. Preterrestrial animals were all Marine and are used to an abundant amount of moisture around they're visionary senses (i.e. the eyes). When Continents in earth formed, marine habitats were destroyed and many organisms had to approach new 'waters', and it was what we know as continental earth. Only the fittest animals were capable of transitioning into terrestrial(LAND) organisms. Land was very dry unlike the ocean, so animals who had dryed out eyes have bad or no vision and therefore less chance of survival. Animals who developed tears to keep moisture around their eyes are probably the ones that passed their offsprings, therefore continuity and increase in alele frequency. It is hard to see how Arkady thought of this question. if we lose our tears doesnt mean we all are gonna die and our reproductive capabilities are gone. Well the thing is you never know, because it's all chance and probabilities.
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          Mar 21 2013: What you say applies to the functionality of tear glands. Christopher's question clearly pertains to emotional crying. How does that help us survive?

          Re: "dont you think if tear glands and crying are random mutations, then how are tears present in all humans?"

          Correct me if I'm wrong. It is my understanding that the theory of evolution considers that all biological advances started as random changes. Otherwise, you have to admit that life and evolutionary progress has a "purpose" which leads to creationism. Random mutations spread across species through reproduction. I'm not a biologist, though. I may be wrong.
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          Mar 21 2013: Solaiman, I love the quote from your profile:
          "My TED Story
          I was scrolling around the appstore in my newly unlocked iphone, and I was like *tap*, and then thats it.."

          This, in my view, is a very nice summary of how evolution and scientific discovery work :-).
      • Mar 21 2013: it's not that simple, there's a third option: that crying is a part of some other process that is very necessary, a kind of side effect. there might also be 4th of 5th possibilities that neither of us has thought of!
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          Mar 21 2013: Arkady what you said was completely correct. oh man. I just realized that tears dont necessarily act as defense mechanism because people also cry of joy; and what harm would joy do to someone's body(?!) my best guess emotions affect a part of our brain which we still cant comprehend and psychology. Im blabbering. Im not in a position to speculate cuz im no expert and i have no references to what im saying.
          It's fun to speculate :PPPP I actually just turned sophmore, biology is my niche
  • Mar 21 2013: Thats a lotta dry eyes if we have no tear glands. Id start selling visine on the street corner. Just thinkin about not being able to shed tears is making me cry........... i gotta go.... sorry guys.
  • Mar 21 2013: there is a lot of evidence that many of our physiological responses (blushing etc) are social signals, and i'd be surprised if crying wasn't naturally selected for the same reason. the spoken word came relatively late in our evolution, and so mournful cries and watering eyes would be a good cue to family members to provide comfort from either physical or emotional pain. sympathy and mutual assistance being important facets of our ability to survive and thrive.
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      Mar 21 2013: Expression of emotion plays largely in the social intelligence of humans. Bottomline: crying has many different functions , so that means the ability to cry isnt simple. It is very hard to comprehend humans losing tear glands anytime soon, unless we evolve into emotionless, electronic, metalloid robots!(they wouldnt have use for tear glands!) Therefore, the adaptation of the ability to cry is crucial for humans evolution and reign over Earth.
      • Mar 21 2013: not necessarily. it might have once been simple, but we now have many uses for it as our social structures have evolved along with our physical structures. we could lose tear glands if something more useful ever came along. they're not crucial, but they help, which is why they survive as a trait.
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      Mar 21 2013: Our ability to rationalize things is truly amazing. We can find a purpose for anything we see. When we need to kill a mammoth and use stones for that purpose, we may start believing that killing mammoths is the purpose of stones. Well, that was OUR purpose for them.

      Why can't we signal grief and comfort each other by rubbing our noses together? Why cries and tears?
      • Mar 21 2013: because rubbing noses takes a conscious effort, it is an action not a signal. anyway that argument doesn't work because it could have been something other than cries and tears. it doesn't have to be tears, but something is beneficial, so when that something comes about, it is naturally selected for.

        also your example is not of rationality. if we were rationalizing the existence of stones we'd see that they aren't 'for' anything until we give them a purpose. deciding that stones must be for killing mammoths is the exact opposite of rational thought!
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          Mar 21 2013: Re: "also your example is not of rationality. if we were rationalizing the existence of stones we'd see that they aren't 'for' anything until we give them a purpose. deciding that stones must be for killing mammoths is the exact opposite of rational thought!"

          With that said, substitute "stones" for "tears" and "killing mammoths" for "expressing emotions".
      • Mar 21 2013: you've skipped the rational part again. many studies have shown the importance of outward behaviors such as flushed cheeks, and many more have shown the importance of social structure in the evolution of human society (do you debate either of these points?) it's not a leap at all to conclude that tears likely are another part of this, that they are useful to society and individuals within that society. there's a pattern there, you don't have to 'try' to rationalize anything.

        there is no evidence that stones evolved, nor any precedent nor similarities, however there is a lot of evidence that human physiological responses have evolved, many precedents that lead me to suggest this conclusion (facial expressions, growls etc to name but 2 more) all of which are similar - a human physiological response to stimuli.

        by your own argument, we could not possibly conclude that lack of air in a tyre is the cause of poor vehicle handling! utter nonsense to dismiss something out of hand because you personally declare it to be unknown.
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          Mar 21 2013: Let's step back. It's impossible to establish by means of reasoning what is reasonable and what is not. This part of the argument is silly.

          You seem to say that people cry with tears to signal emotions to other people. Signaling emotions to each other plays important role for social survival. Therefore, crying with tears to signal emotions is justified for evolutionary purposes. Right?

          While signaling emotions is important, it is unclear why crying with tears is a suitable or the best way to do that.

          Blushing can be explained by hormones produced as a result of emotion affecting blood circulation and breathing. Blushing may serve as a signal of emotion because of the connection between emotion and blushing. But, in my opinion, it is incorrect to say that "people blush to signal emotions".

          Similarly, people may cry as a result of emotion because certain emotions may, for instance, happen to excite areas in our brain responsible for secretion of tears. Just as with blushing, I don't think crying has a purpose of signaling emotion, because crying is not the only and not the best way of signaling emotions. It is used for this purpose like the stone is used to kill a mammoth, but, in my opinion, it has not "evolved" for this purpose nor it is caused by our need to signal emotions.

          I hope, you find this reasonable.
      • Mar 22 2013: yes it is, and that's the flaw with your own cognitive process that's leading you to dismiss evidence.

        it is a suitable way to do that, as evidenced by thousands of years of human social life. i didn't say it was the best way, it's just the way that evolved and it does the job.

        your opinion is wrong, but that's understandable because you are again looking at only one point. there are many purposes of blushing and flushing, one of them (and only one of many) is just as you said, another one of them is a sexual signal, useful for a pre-verbal human.

        again i didn't say crying was the only way, i said it clearly has a purpose which it achieves. we could possibly have developed other ways, some of them could be better, but this is what happened to evolve and it works so it remains part of human physiology. it is not in any way similar to how a stone is used to kill a mammoth. crying is innate while throwing a stone is not (we have to think about it and choose to do it), crying is a reaction while throwing a stone is not, just to give two.

        indeed it has not evolved for any purpose at all, that's not what evolution is about. new traits come up, and if they are useful they get kept, that's all. a likely scenario is one day a human was the first to cry. it provoked a response from members of the group who rendered assistance, increasing the chance that that human would survive and bear children who would also cry when they were upset. that's not my opinion, that's a conclusion drawn from evidence.

        i think this question might help you understand: why did we evolve fingers?
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          Mar 22 2013: This was a great discussion. I finally have to completely agree with you. I had doubts regarding "survival of the fittest" principle being a tautology paraphrased as "survival of the survivors". This article explains it. It doesn't appear to be a tautology if we speak of specific adaptations, because "fittest" isn't defined as just "survivors" but is defined through specific traits in every specific case. The argument isn't obviously invalid as it was supported by Karl Popper among others.

          However, why we signal emotions through crying and not by other means is a more complex question as noted at the end of the article:

          "In order to explain why a species exhibits this trait rather than that trait, you need to know what the null hypothesis is (otherwise you can make a selective explanation for both a case and its opposite equally well). Perhaps it has this trait because its ancestors had it and it has been maintained by selection. Perhaps it has it because it would be too disruptive of the entire genome and developmental machinery to remove it. Perhaps it has it for reasons to do with genetic drift, simple accident, or whatever. In order to make a good scientific explanation, says Griffiths, you must know a fair bit about the phylogeny of the species, its environmental distribution, and how the processes that create the trait work at the level of genes, cells and zygotes.

          This leads us to the question of what a scientific explanation really is; indeed, it opens up the question of what science is, that it is so different from other intellectual pursuits like backgammon, theology or literary criticism."

          And the article regarding falsifiability of evolution was also a good read: It appears that scientific theories do not have to be falsifiable to be scientific. Which still leaves me puzzled over what science is. The article is open-ended.
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          Mar 22 2013: Re: "there are many purposes of blushing and flushing"

          Perhaps, it's better to say "functions", not "purposes". Language is quite important as we speak of evolution. It often creates an illusion that we imply volition in nature. Here is Darwin on this issue:

          "Others have objected that the term selection implies conscious choice in the animals which become modified; and it has even been urged that, as plants have no volition, natural selection is not applicable to them! In the literal sense of the word, no doubt, natural selection is a misnomer; but who ever objected to chemists speaking of the elective affinities of the various elements?—and yet an acid cannot strictly be said to elect the base with which it will in preference combine. It has been said that I speak of natural selection as an active power or Deity; but who objects to an author speaking of the attraction of gravity as ruling the movements of the planets? Every one knows what is meant and is implied by such metaphorical expressions; and they are almost necessary for brevity. So again it is difficult to avoid personifying the word Nature; but I mean by Nature, only the aggregate action and product of many natural laws, and by laws the sequence of events as ascertained by us."

          This is what causes my eyebrows raise in the phrase "our emotions are programmed by evolution."
  • Mar 16 2013: Emotions can stir up a lot of energy in us. Crying is a harmless release of this built up emotional energy; a negative example would be destructive anger (ever punched a wall?). Some people have been taught crying is bad - this may lead to less productive releases of emotional energy - drinking and/or substance abuse ("it's ok to cry if you're drunk"), violence, or emotional detachment. In short, I'd say crying is a healthy release, and yes - allows us to deal with complex emotions.

    It's not all sadness and pain, sometimes it's just a release of overwhelming emotional responses to things such as joyous occasions, powerful music, inspiring speeches etc.. There's all kinds of things that make us well up, including exhibitions of extreme kindness and compassion by other beings.
  • Mar 15 2013: Another question is what is the evolutionary advantage of smiling? We evolved the ability to communicate and to feel empathy because cooperation is useful in order for survival and in order to help our genes (family) survive. Smiling, laughing, crying are ways we communicate emotional states and tie in with our ability to feel empathy for each other. All three can be described as "contagious" because of our ability to experience empathy. Something interesting is that dogs have developed human empathy by co-evolving with us where as cats are just plotting to eat us when we die...
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    Mar 21 2013: Mostly it is a tool used by women and children to gain something. Once in a blue moon it actually is a manifestation of grief.
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      Mar 21 2013: My dear Pat,
      Perhaps if we (women) have learned ways of manipulating with the act of crying, it means we are more evolved! LOL:>)
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        Mar 21 2013: I would not argue otherwise, this is no hat rack on my shoulders or at least some of the time.
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          Mar 21 2013: OH MY GOODNESS.....I think I'm gonna frame your comment Pat, and cry with joy:>)
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        Mar 21 2013: Of course you are! Women can beat men hands down in any survival game and I don't mean in any unfair way. Evolution favors tenacity over brute strength, coping skill over aggression. Women are born managers and negotiators.
        However, I think biologically males are better looking than females. If you look around among higher order animals, males stand out for their beauty and elegance. I have a feeling that is somewhat vain, except for mating purpose.
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          Mar 21 2013: Pabitra....I agree....agree.....agree.....agree............

          Better looking Pabitra? I'm looking at your photo....guess it depends on what "tribe" one is a members of:>)
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        Mar 21 2013: :) Thanks. This is honestly how I feel, no flattery. I wish we could start afresh from the 'tribe' you see in my picture from 4 to 7 million years ago.
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          Mar 21 2013: I don't think it is possible to go back that far Pabitra my friend. What we CAN do, as individuals, is remember that every day is the first day of the rest of our lives. So, if there is something we would like to change, the time is now:>)
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        Mar 21 2013: True. What I am changing now is the necessity. It's a brief sojourn so I shall travel light.
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          Mar 21 2013: Dear Pabitra,
          I have discovered that the life journey is more enjoyable when we "travel light":>)
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      Mar 22 2013: Dear Pat,

      Men cry too and when they actually do that and show their emotions they also tend to attract women. I don't know any child, girl or dame who would say "I saw him crying, that means he's weak and manipulative." Doesn't seem too plausible. Manifestation of grief? For a child not getting a candy may lead to grief. For a woman not getting a hug may lead to grief. Please define grief :)

      And tears are used by males in other species as well. When males in some species of rodents (I don't remember which ones, sorry) put their own tears on their fur they attract the females who become more likely to get into the state of "lordosis" around them - the position in which a female rodent lifts her tail and is ready to mate.

      So - tears have a role in evolution :) In alienation - getting rid of surplus emotions. Among others in the tribe - getting rid of surplus emotions and sometimes getting something. Or not getting anything and being called weak and manipulative :) And with less evolved beings - getting a sexual partner.
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    Mar 21 2013: I think, the question is loaded. It presumes that if we possess some ability, it must have advantage for our survival. I've often heard evolutionists say things like "human emotions are programmed by evolution" as if evolution has any will to give us features and abilities that help us survive. Aren't adaptations and mutations just random events? How did humans evolve freckles or red curly hair?

    "Does the ability to cry have any advantages?" or "why should we have it?" also seems to be an irrelevant question to explain why we have it. We don't have everything we think we "should have" (e.g. it might be cool to have an RF sensor built into our brain) and we often have things that we shouldn't (cancer, for example).

    From evolutionary standpoint, the only question that seems to makes sense is "can it lead to our extinction?" If the answer is "no", then there is no reason why we shouldn't have it.
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      Mar 21 2013: lets assume we dont get exinct if we lose the ability to cry. That means at some point in the future, tear glands become unneccessary for our survival, rendering it useless. we have seen humans lose vestigial(useless) organs which all humans are still born with the appendix. It was believed our ancestors had a vegeterian(herbivore) diet and the appendix helped digest the food. Now we are omnivores and we dont need complex organs for digesting plants; but we are still born with it! Meaning that if we lose the ability to cry, it will take thousands of generations until we would see a complete removal of the tear glands.

      crying moisturizes the eye. Ancient Earth was all water and oceans. Organisms with eyesight during ancient earth are used to the abundance of water around their eyes and entire bodies. When Land appeared and organisms had to deal with their loss of habitat by adapting to a dryer environment, i.e. Land. So tear glands may be an adaptation to keep vision healthy by keeping the eye as close to the moisture it was used to in Ancient Earth.
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    Mar 20 2013: I'm gonna try to give an educated guess. Crying happens on different scenarios for different reasons. Your eyes tear when a needle pinches you, when dust particles enter the eye, and also when someone hurts you emotionally.
    Crying or tearing is a common response to physical or/and emotional pain. When you something external acts on your body, it reacts. Physical pain: tears and crying are involuntary, so when you cry from pain, your body is going on defense mode, it wants to relieve the pain and wants it to go away. The chemical reactions in the brain that trigger crying might also reduce the pain as byproduct. However , crying's function may differ with stages in life. Infants for instance, cry when their body is in NEED of something i.e. food, diaper change, sleep >>> all for one thing, healthy upbringing, survival and to bring offspring. another stage in human's lives, lets say (2-7yrs old), you often see them cry more when they are denied something they want (candy) rather than physical pain. when they cry they range from cute convincing watery eyes to volatile annoying tantrums. Well I'd say they get their way 50-50, but thats not essential for survival as in infants. So why do they cry when they want something? I really don't know, but if I had to say, its the human's obsession with instant gratification. If you always get what you want, you are happy and you have a brain full of Dopamine(happy chemical), it could possibly also mean a healthier brain and body. Thirdly, eyes tear when dust or other foreign particles enter the eye. The tears gather all the foreign objects and mechanically by gravity leave your eye, and clearing your eyes from any risk of disease. I have no knowledge of how tears evolved from species to species. All this infromation I wrote might be completely false. I am only typing this from my head. kinda went with the flow of this website. whew... this is my first on this website, pretty inspiring..
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    Mar 16 2013: Tears are made to wash the windows to our souls.
  • Mar 15 2013: I would say the advantage is the immediate reaction from others. When you see someone cry, you immediately know something is wrong and usually try to help them. And also many people cry loudly. If we were a group of nomadic hunters (for example) and someone got attacked, hurt, or fell, they would cry and surely someone would stop and go back to help. Empathy is what keeps the human race together and surviving. If nobody cared about anyone else, nobody would invent medicine, vaccinations, become doctors, teachers, mothers or fathers!
  • Mar 21 2013: the ability to cry is absolutely healthy and simply part of being human. the suppression of the feelings that would cause one to cry is what's unhealthy, to my and many other's opinion actually the root of every physical manifestation of pain or dis-ease. Crying in itself can have many different emotional, social, physical, mental and energetic purposes and expressions. In its most "useful", pure form it serves the purpose of releasing blocked energy and for babies and children to communicate their needs and emotional states in order to receive the care and attention that they need to survive and develop successfully into a healthy social being with the ability to manage external as well as internal matters independently.
    very interesting and understandable information on the physical aspect by Sue Gerhardt in her book "Why love matters"
    or on a bit of a strange page but a nice text
    or by a rather controversial person but with quite some depth to what he has to say about emotions in general
    there are so many different takes on the matter of crying and emotions, but it all comes down to the one thing: suppressing them is not healthy and only serves the purpose of fitting in, appearing normal, feeling safe.
    exploring ones own emotions can be a somewhat confusing or frightening experience at first but the moments we decide to embrace them fully are the moments when we are really alive! And it's only gonna get better, there are nice emotions too ;-D every emotion is a good emotion, it just depends on our beliefs about the emotion, such as "a man shouldn't cry or be vulnerable, especially not in front of others", whether we can allow ourselves and others to express whatever needs to be expressed in that moment.
    So, that would be my take on this,
    nice thread :)
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    Mar 21 2013: "I've never been the kind to ever let my feelings show
    And I thought that bein' strong meant never losin' your self-control
    But I'm just drunk enough to let go of my pain
    To hell with my pride, let it fall like rain
    From my eyes
    Tonight I wanna cry"
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      Mar 22 2013: "Without emotions, without feelings, without love, without hate breath is just a clock - ticking." - from Equilibrium the movie, a dystopia in which all human beings in the system are forced to take drugs to completely de-emotionalise themselves and become only rational. Those who oppose this are hunted down. Nice film.
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        Mar 22 2013: I shall find the film. But I am already too far gone down the unreasoning, illogical life to appreciate the value of tears. Thanks.
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    Mar 21 2013: At the early stages in life, crying is for displaying discomfort to grab attention. As people grow older, they discover it can be used as a defense mechanism among other homo sapiens, like crying to make someone empathize with the pain the other person caused you. Crying is a healing exercise, but that idea has more of a spiritual attachment, though some scientists may agree with this idea.

    Crying by itself is a sexless trait, but socially, females are associated more with crying, though I've seen plenty of men cry and not from any physical pain either.
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    Mar 20 2013: In crying we;
    1. Learn the art of letting go. Crying is perceived as the ultimate sign of breakdown and in the perception a lot of truth is held. Crying is an expression of an extreme emotion. It could be joy, laughter, pain or excitement. Crying describes the most inner and until we let ourselves cry it out we haven't reached the end of the emotion.
    2. Crying reminds us we are human and we are not perfect. It reminds us that it is OK to fall or fail sometimes. In so doing we develop thick skin, we develop risk taking hearts. We stop being afraid of falling or failing and take on life with huge strides.
    3. Crying stops the world from wanting to know you. Often, we find ourselves wanting to understand why abc is so thick/ hard and wont break, we pursue to understand underlying issues even when none exists. The moment they cry we sort of discover an aha moment our minds frame that they are human and so we stop trying to dig in them.
    • Mar 21 2013: interesting essay, but i'm curious as to how you think this answers the question?
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    Mar 16 2013: I've found that when i'm truly affected by a sad event in my life, as in the passing of a child or a loved one I freeze, my body becomes like stone, a statue with water flowing down it's cheeks. No emotion, just a torrent of silent unbroken tears and i think a lot of men cry this way. In those moments women always want to grab me and sob that gut wrenching cry that can grip a person when all i want to do is walk away but can't move, it's like stone.
    • Mar 16 2013: I have had similar reactions to the passing of friends - silent, lack of emotion. For me, however, the tears didn't seem to come until later at some random moment of reflection.
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        Mar 16 2013: It's a cultural thing for me and my people to gather together for a few days and live with the loved one that is gone. It' helps the children come to terms with what happens and during this period is when a lot of emotion comes to the surface as well as the stories and the jokes of the good times. We joke a lot and recant the naughty times. Most come away from it with something they never knew about the person, by the time it's finished you're so worn out that all you want to do is sleep and begin again.
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          Mar 16 2013: Hello Ken:>)
          Do you think/feel that the whole process of gathering, coming together, sharing jokes and stories sets the stage for people to be genuinely vulnerable to each other, which facilitates coming away from the event with something you may not have known about the other person? Do you think/feel that it may create a "safe" place to share the deepest feelings?
  • Mar 16 2013: If you cry pretty, you can be an actress LOL

    You can just catch the moment of being sad or miserable.

    Crying is like laughing although both seem contradictory.

    I from time to time try to embrace the moment of crying—or sobbing.

    It often helps me come up with words to describe my feelings uniquely and precisely when writing stuffs.

    Or… it could be a good inspiration to you.

    Just like drinking coffee, you can just taste what it is to cry and what it is to feel sad or extremely happy.

    Crying is the most humanlike action.

    Although we might not like the feeling of crying—it's bitter anyway, the action of crying plainly shows your vulnerability, and your inner-self constantly reminds you that this is also part of “you” whether you'd like to acknowledge that or not.

    Thinking big, I know the ability to cry makes you realize so many things about your life and further, the world with a healthy dose of bitterness.
    • Mar 16 2013: Great point - crying is like laughing. Both are a release, and who hasn't had to wipe their eyes after a good laugh?
  • Mar 16 2013: good questions but i am simply theorizing where we evolved it from not how it has evolved in modern humans yes you are right we do all of that for many different reasons shame being one of the strongest among them
  • Mar 15 2013: yes you do unless you do not like them and in someway wish harm or simply don't know them because then you ignore their pleas for pity but crying does call for pity i don't how you can't see that and AHHHH i Know! im not talking about now days i'm talking about evolution here because yes you are right because in "modern" times we are more accepting of emitting emotions and almost want and call for it
  • Mar 15 2013: yes artificial pity we all feel it when someone is crying and often that is their goal to make you feel bad for them which in turn aids them in whatever their own moral wants and desires are and yes i understand that it isn't just women that cry that's why i said weaker individuals i am talking about how we evolved it not what it is presently i'm just proposing that crying is just a defense mechanism for when only the strongest had their way and the weaker individuals had no say because it was a world where physical strength prevailed over all else and strength has always been dominant in men
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      Mar 15 2013: Charles,
      We do not ALL feel "artificial pity" when someone is crying.....sorry you feel that way. And it is not just "weaker individuals" who cry.
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        Mar 18 2013: Hi Colleen, just answering your Q's from my comments here. It's hard to explain as I've grown up with this tradition, so it is normal for me. We don't talk about our feelings as it is written on our faces and in the tears, there is a lot of ceremony as well and that can get in the way if the person is publicly respected by a large group but generally a persons personal memory of an embarrassing or funny moment they shared with the person laying in state tells us just how close they were to them, it's their way of showing their pain and it is never written down as a speech. Pending on how close you are to the loved one, you stand up in front of everyone where ever you may be sitting in one of our halls and it just flows, it can get a bit flowery but the best ones are the funny stories. Some cannot finish as they might be overwhelmed. It's in the stories we share that connects you to the deceased. A window that you never knew was there.

        Even in this digital age, actually physically being there listening to the stories pulls you in. Our white kiwi's have adopted the funny story telling even if they have never been to one of ours, i have been to many a white friends gathering and have laughed til i cried, it's become cultural for them as well.

        We sing a lot, whatever you may know, the song is usually the finisher for your talk, a stamping of your story. Sealed with a song. Sorry Colleen if i'm not making sense, i really don't know how else to explain it in English.
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          Mar 20 2013: Thanks Ken....sorry it has taken me so long to respond. I felt touched by your comment, which is why I asked the questions, and I feel touched by this one as well:>)

          I think many times when we know people really well, and have shared many of the same life adventures, talking is not really needed....there is an understanding that is felt on a very deep level.....I experience that feeling with some friends.

          We have a similar practice at funerals here too....people in the audience are often invited to speak if they wish to. Somtimes people have written something down prior to the event, and sometimes is a choice. I notice that often, however, a person who has written something down ignores it and just speaks from the heart in the moment. Sometimes, they are crying so much they cannot read the previously written words.

          You make a LOT of sense Ken, and your telling of the experience in the way you do so well, causes me to feel like I am there.....thank you:>)
    • Mar 16 2013: I think it's worth clarifying here that there is a difference between bawling like a baby because you stubbed your toe, and crying because something devastatingly sad happened.

      I also don't think it is a means of getting artificial pity, though some people may use it as manipulation for various reasons. If this were the case, why then would people choke back their tears? Why would they cry by themselves? Why would they be scared of being seen crying?
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      Mar 16 2013: You make an interesting point.

      However, tears may come at the most unexpected times due to deep deep sorrow.
      It is not always a sign of weakness.

      What is even more incredible is that holding back tears may even do you harm. Did you know that?
      Attached is an article you might enjoy reading.,3363995

      [EDITED: I was just wondering why you have suddenly decided to start writing without the use of proper grammar and proper makes it hard to read your comments....??]
  • Mar 15 2013: well perhaps it's just simply a good signal to others of distress but that doesn't explain why it would evolve perhaps it is a way of producing artificial pity in other humans which would be a required skill for females or a weaker individual as to not be damaged by stronger individuals but even that still doesn't answer the question of why the eyes were the choice of evolution for this trait why wouldn't we just frown or drool instead of crying perhaps it developed just as a simple cleaning tool for the eye (which it actually is) and was somehow connected to our emotions long ago because not only would it produce pity but it would also cleaned lubricate the eye when performed or another idea is that crying is just the pain connected to when we get something in our eyes and it waters and the body just connected those two because of the shared trait of pain
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      Mar 15 2013: Charles,
      "Artificial pity"? What??? "Required skills for females or weaker individuals"??? That is a myth that it is only females and weaker individuals who cry. I've seen some pretty strong men cry, and I believe it is a strength.
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    Mar 15 2013: For men maybe but that because it has been Rote taught not to cry. However crying is a great why to emotional release. You have to unlearn it not out evolve it
  • Mar 15 2013: When I think about evolving the ability to cry, a certain sociological pattern comes to mind: the difference between crying women and men. This article brings up some fascinating dilemmas we all relate to. Crying can be a very honest and natural experience, like blushing. So it is important to recognize the time that crying becomes more of a psychological complication rather than something that we do not try to control. The culture that I see all around me glorifies tough and unemotional men. Feminism has at times been portrayed as women trying to be tough and unemotional, like men. But this is all bullshit really. Paralyzing to the evolution of an emotionally mature individual is this idea that crying portrays weakness. What needs improvement is the societal norm. If men and women were able to cry without shame, I think a better balance would come to how the two genders interact with each other, and how people see themselves as individuals apart from cliches.
  • Mar 15 2013: Colleen,

    Dogs have empathy link:
    Cat are evil link:

    Science has pretty much spoken on cats versus dogs.

    Smiling, laughing, crying have effects because an emotion is not an abstract thought in your mind, but exists as part of your entire mind-body state. Smiling can actually cause you to be happy because part of the emotion of happiness is smiling. Another example, is deep breathing to stop yourself from being angry. You adjust the physical part of the anger and that affects the anger. So part of the emotion is the physical experience of the emotion.

    Botox link:

    So evolutionarily speaking I guess you could say that smiling, laughing, crying allow us to feel deeper and richer emotions, but I wanted to point out that the ability to understand and communicate these emotions is an advantage.
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      Mar 15 2013: William,
      You do not have to convince me. I've been "owned" by many dogs and cats throughout my lifetime. I have experience with their personalities:>)
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    Mar 15 2013: Crying is healing, and as Random points out, can be joyful and/or sad. I don't think it is a matter of "evolving the ability" because it is natural. What needs to happen sometimes is people need to allow themselves to is a good thing when/if that is what the body/mind is needing:>)
    • Mar 15 2013: yes but your not getting the question he is wondering why we Evolved the ability unlike other creatures who do not cry
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        Mar 15 2013: Charles,
        Other creatures DO cry. Ask a Mahout about elephants!
        • Mar 20 2013: ok thanks i know that but when was the last time you saw an ant cry or an iguana? not all creatures cry it's a fact i'm just wondering why some cry and others don't and for some reason i have a feeling that you don't think evolution is fact am i right?
      • Mar 20 2013: I have experienced a Labrador dog, a farm dog with a loyal and strong nature, - her eyes welled up with tears and sadness on a occasion of remembering her mother, who had just died. The story is too long to explain here, but there was no doubt about it. There was another occasion too when this same dog 's eyes welled up in sympathy.
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          Mar 20 2013: I have had several different breeds of dogs throughout my life, including a golden lab, which seemed to be the MOST sensitive of any. He was like one of the kids:>)
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        Mar 21 2013: Hi Charles:>)
        I've observed LOTS of ants and iguana, including the giant iguana in the Galapagos (fabulous experience BTW), and I've never observed them crying, so I don't know about those examples. It does appear that some animals DO cry, and I'm curious about why some do and some don't too!

        I believe in evolution. How did you get the feeling that I don't think evolution is fact?
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    Mar 15 2013: Crying is a complex secretomotor phenomenon characterized by the shedding of tears from the lacrimal apparatus, without any irritation of the ocular structures. Advantages unknown. Possibly, a social influence of a belief that it can relieve one of intense emotional sensation.

    I believe crying is essentially a developed brain function of certain higher order animals that releases few hormones to inhibit neurotic overdrive. The immediate advantage is health related with secondary advantages like non-verbal communication for anger, frustration, appeal for help, fear or deep/spiritual joy, which is a social trait. I think crying is also a necessary neonatal exercise to jump start cardiovascular and breathing functions for human babies who don't start moving immediately after birth.

    In brief crying is advantageous for survival both biologically and socially.
  • Mar 15 2013: Crying can be both joyful and sad.
    Answer this: do you know what it is like to feel joy?
    Overwhelming joy?
    Did you ever,
    stand and shiver?
    Just because you were looking at a river?

    As I've aged, I found crying to be intimately connected to laughing in a most unusual way.
    For lack of a better word, that word being god so please excuse my use of it, I think more of the power, beauty, knowledge, compassion, connections, emotions and love that can be a part of our lives and are also intimately connected and part of us humans almost like air.
    So, to me, to cry, is to let more of those things in (god) and to laugh is let more of those things (god) out.
    It's almost like breathing.
    Well, it is in fact.
  • Mar 15 2013: It's simple natural selection, babies that cry gets more attention from the mothers, thus they get fed more. Babies that don't are fed less thus developing into weaker individuals and you know what happens to them... When we grow older though the significance of that becomes less but it carries on, at the end crying becomes one of the many expressions we use to communicate with each other, it's not that different from laughing which is to say "I'm happy", crying simply expresses "I'm sad".