I’m a person who has always cried pretty easily. It’s one of the reasons I know I’m sensitive, even though I try not to let things get me down and to bounce back. Over the years, I’ve learned how to work around my tears when they spring up at an inconvenient time. I have a bunch of mental/physical tricks to prevent myself from crying at a bad time.
And if that fails, I am a real ace at ducking into a bathroom or private space, letting it go, and then erasing the evidence afterwards.
That’s because I’ve found that people tend to respect me less if I break down in front of them. Oh, I know people will say that they don’t. That it’s showing vulnerability, which is a sign of strength, blah blah blah.
But I’ve found that some people will start to treat me like I’m weak and helpless. Which is the last thing you need if you’re out there trying to get things done.
Anyway, because of this natural tendency of mine to tears, I’m always especially interested in any new research that has to do with crying — like today’s study.
Men & Women Are Different When It Comes to Being Willing to Help Crying People
The study asked participants to rate crying individuals in the following ways: On helplessness, friendliness, and connectedness.
How helpless or friendly a crying person seems are fairly straightforward concepts, but connectedness perhaps requires an explanation. To determined connectedness, participants were asked to rate on a scale statements like the following: “I feel emotionally evolved with this person,” “I sympathize with this person,” etc.
Participants were also asked to indicate how willing they were to help this person by asking them if they needed any help or comforting them.
The study found the following:
- Both men and women were more willing to help crying individuals they perceived as being helpless and in need of support or consolation.
- However, women also took how connected they felt to the crying person into account. Men as a group did not do this. Men’s level of connection to the person crying did not factor into whether they were willing to help or comfort them.
- There also seemed to a gender disparity in the way that men helped crying people. Men were much less willing to help other men. Women did not show this bias and were equally willing to help both men and women who were crying.
This post is part of an ongoing Poly Land feature called Psyched for the Weekend, in which I geek out with brief takes about some of my favorite psychological studies and concepts. For the entire series, please see this link.