Pass me a tissue, please…
I’ll admit it: I cry during movies… and books, music, and podcasts. Depending on how my hormone levels are, I might preemptively grab tissues and just watch the movie alone.
Though a lot of people smirk when they see me watch movies in tears, I’m really fine with it. Truth be told, people who cry over movies tend to have something that a lot of others haven’t really cultivated: empathy.
However, a lot of people believe that crying during movies is nothing but a sign of weakness. Well, guess what, that thought couldn’t be more wrong! Paul J. Zak, a neuroeconomist at Claremont Graduate University, conducted a study in which he affirms that those who cry during movies are more empathetic, they know how to handle their emotions better, and they are stronger when facing daily challenges.
The study was published in the journal Cerebrum – PMC that was titled ‘Why Inspiring Stories Make Us React: The Neuroscience of Narrative’.
According to the study although they know that the movie is not real and the story they see on the screen is fictional, it’s still inevitable that they will cry when they see a very emotional scene.
Oxytocin(a hormone) acts as a neurotransmitter and it’s responsible for what we feel when we witness a touching scene. We connect a story, to a feeling, and, later, to a positive action. That is, this hormone makes us more empathetic and makes us have a much more receptive attitude toward the world, in addition to making us feel happier.
People who are not embarrassed to cry during movies are, in fact, more mentally tough than those who try to hide their tears. That is because they are brave enough to express their true feelings. They are not afraid of being judged or criticized. This, according to Zak himself, is also an effect of oxytocin, since, by empathizing with those around them, human beings are not afraid to stand up for what they think is right.
The findings made by Zak also show that those who cry at movies know about the healing power of tears. Crying makes us connect with other people, we learn to see that there are circumstances that can positively and negatively affect our environment, and that we are susceptible to it.
The people who cry during movies also assume that it’s important to maintain a certain perspective on what happens to us, and that sometimes it’s necessary to take a moment to cry. This allows them to achieve greater emotional stability than those who hide their feelings.
Oxytocin is related to trustworthiness between people. Those who have more trust in others, have high levels of this neurotransmitter in their body, and often forge deeper relationships. They recognize the value of appreciating those around them. They also live more fully than those who have trust issues and feel distressed by the relationships they establish with others.
The next time you see someone crying or feel like crying while watching a movie, keep these things in mind and don’t judge.
When you feel emotional yourself, don’t try to hold back the waterworks. Shed a tear and embrace your emotions!