Why Do We Cry? – Glad You Asked S1 (E2)


( music playing )Joss:David, can you
just tell us your name
so we have that in?
David:
David Phillips.
And, David,
how often do you cry? – Um…
– It depends on the week. Um, actually,
on my way here I cried. Sometimes when you’re in your most vulnerable situations and Adele hits,
she really hits. So you know in
“Guardians of the Galaxy” when Groot makes a tree ball
around his friends and Rocket’s like,
“Groot, no!” The episode where
Ben and Leslie get married. And I picked up the phone and I realized
she’s not there anymore. I probably cry once
every six months,
if it’s a bad six months. In 2016, when I received
a video message of a moment that I probably
shouldn’t have missed. I remember these things because
for three years I kept a record of every time that I cried. This is your spreadsheet.( music playing )( sniffling ) So you guys all read
my spreadsheet. I’ve crunched the data
a little bit. So, the majority of these
were reactions to media, TV shows, movies,
podcasts, some articles, and about 37% were things
that were actually happening
in my personal life. So, as I’ve been looking
into this, one of the most interesting
facts I’ve come across is that a lot of people
consider tears to be
the only bodily fluid that doesn’t gross us out. Snot, earwax, spit. – All the other ones…
– All the other ones. …all gross. – All gross, but we–
– Yeah. We don’t have that
reaction to tears. Why’d you make
the spreadsheet? Um, when I cry, it feels like
I’ve become a different person. Because in my normal life,
I’m very calm and collected. I feel like I’m in control. And I think most of us
take for granted that crying is something
that humans do. But I’ve never felt
like I had a good grasp
on why we do it. I would weirdly find that crying during swim practice
was really therapeutic. So, I just cry
a little bit in my goggles and then I rest on the wall
during the interval, and then I just literally
would empty out the tears, put on my cap
and just keep swimming. Joss:I have enlisted
the help of Taili Wu,
a master stop motion animator,to help us explain the anatomy
of the lacrimal system,
which is what makes us cry.– It’s alive!
– ( laughs ) We’re gonna bring Alex in
and show him how it all works. All right. – Are you ready?
– Yeah. Jose:Okay,
so the main lacrimal gland
is here on the upper
outer part of the eye socket.That gland releases tears
that travel across the eye
washing any irritants away.And then when we blink,
liquid gets pushed
into two tiny holes
near the corner of the eye.
And if you look really close,
you can see them.
Okay. Can you see it? – Yes, I can now.
– You do? – It’s tiny. Right there.
– Yay! – Can you show me the other one?
– Yeah. – Can you see it?
– Yeah. – You can see the hole.
– I actually can see it. Oh, my God.So our tears drain
into our nose,
and that’s why the nose
starts running when you cry.
When the lacrimal gland
is producing so many tears,
that they can’t drain
fast enough,
they spill over
onto your cheeks.
– And that’s crying?
– That’s crying. Wow. So it’s just, like,
this overflow of excess tears. – Exactly.
– Wow. And we share this anatomy with a lot
of other land animals. It evolved way
before humans did. And I found a clip on YouTube
that I really want to show you. –( cat meows )
– Woman:Oh, Buddy.Man:Oh, Buddy.Did those onions get to you? Aww, Buddy. So this is what happens
if you cut onions by a cat, which is not a particularly
nice thing to do. But what’s unique about us is
that humans are the only animal that cries tears
of emotion. – Really?
– Yeah. So there’s some point
in our evolution that our lacrimal glands
became connected
to our emotions, and I really wanted to know
how that happened. So I called up
a Dutch psychologist
named Ad Vingerhoets. – Great name.
– Who is– yes. Who is considered the world’s
leading expert in crying. ( crying ) And would that be
why we have tears
when we yawn as well? Yeah, yeah. Okay, so the idea is that the babies would’ve been
screaming to get care, that vocal signal, and then it would’ve
come along with that, – these tears.
– Yes. ( baby crying ) I see. So, maybe there was
a survival advantage to a child
who produced more tears – as opposed to more
vocal crying.
– Yeah. Hmm. So what I’m getting
from this is, like, over time, crying became a way
for us to reach out for help. Now you’re saying
that tears are essentially a more subdued way of
expressing those same things. Exactly. Humans go through this
really long childhood where our brains
still have to develop, because we’ve
got these giant brains. They take 20, 25 years
to finish forming, and I think that’s why
this crying persists
into adulthood for humans, because we’re vulnerable
for longer than other species. – Hmm.
– I mean, kids are
in their parents’ house for 18 years at least. – Um, being–
– Or 25. Or 25.
Whatever, no judgment. Joss:It was the sad,
helpless screams of infants
that likely linked emotions
to tears in our ancestors.
As adults, our emotions
are more complex,
but they still trigger
the same signal.
Um, I was walking
to get groceries one day and, um, I got a call
from my grandfather. He’s sort of like
another parent to me. I lived in his house
for a while growing up, and I started crying. I didn’t really let on, but I was like,
“Oh, wow. I really miss– I really miss you. I’m really touched that you’re thinking of me
and calling me, even if there’s not much
for us to say.” One of the things
we hear a lot is that people feel better
after they cry and that crying is cathartic. I’ve looked at some
of the research on this, and it seems like
even though a lot of people report that crying
makes them feel better, they haven’t been able
to find any sort of physiological mechanism
that would explain that. So, I am on my way
to meet with Dr. Meena Dasari. She is a clinical psychologist. And I sent her
my spreadsheet in advance, and I’m curious to see
what her analysis of it is. Thank you. All right. Do you think crying
is healthy? I think crying is healthy
when done in moderation– when it’s used as form
of emotional expression, but in conjunction
with other coping strategies. Crying as a release of emotion,
as a way of self-soothing, and then moving on
to different forms, I do think can be healthy. – He is so cute.
– He’s the sweetest. And they’re constantly
wearing tie-dye,
which is their thing. – All the time? Look at them.
– Yeah.My nephew was born in 2014and my niece was born in 2016. – And you can see those
in my spreadsheet,
– Absolutely. feeling like I was
really missing some of
those key moments– their births,
some of their birthdays. And then my sister would
send me videos of them. Woman:
Say “Happy birthday,
Auntie Jossy.” Happy birthday, Auntie Jossy. All:
♪ Happy birthday to you ♪ And those moments were
just like– oof!You know, like,
I should be there.
– Dasari:You longed
for that connection.

– I did. Well, I think that’s
what I was struck by when reading your entries is the big theme to me
seemed human connectedness. And there was sort of
two experiences. One was the expression
of that human connectedness, either love or affection,
um, but also the loss. My mother died
when I was 13 years old and my father didn’t
quite understand me, and– and I didn’t
understand him. And so,
I cried a lot of sad– there was a lot of sadness
in my life. “Oh, Father” by Madonna.♪ You didn’t mean to be cruel ♪I’m thinking of my mother basically through
the whole song. That last day
that I saw my mother alive
was Mother’s Day. You know, my inner child’s mind,
I just feel like… wounded,
and it’s always that part that makes me feel… like she’s wounded, too. Woman:
What happened? He’s sad. He’s sad? Yeah. Oh, no. That made me sad. He wants his mama. Oh. Girl:Say “mama.”So I showed that clip to the Dutch psychologist
Ad Vingerhoets, and he said that
it’s actually pretty rare for a child that young
to feel empathy
to the point of tears. But as we get older,
it becomes more common to cry not just for ourselves,
but because we see
others in pain. And especially for women. Across the board,
women and girls score higher on tests of empathy
than men and boys. And that might partly explain
why women cry more than men. In a survey of 37 countries
around the world, women consistently reported
crying more often than men. And for me, crying can feel
almost contagious. Each of these clips
is from my spreadsheet, and they show that there
was a consistent trigger that made me start to tear up. 70% of the time, it was when
I saw another person crying. And I just remember, like,
crossing the finish line and being so emotionally
vulnerable and so emotionally dead,
and then the plan was everyone’s just gonna meet me
back in my apartment. And so as I was walking, one of my–
one of my best friends, he came and– and found me. And again, I started crying
as soon as I saw him, because I was just– I was just
so glad that he was there and I was so glad, like, somehow
he knew that I needed him. You got me. It’s like if you cry,
I’m gonna cry. That’s amazing.I think the most mysterious
tears are the ones
that come when something
positive is happening.
So I wanted to see
if the team had the same
reaction that I did
to wholesome videos
from my spreadsheet.
Joss is having us watch some
videos that she sent to us. – Are you about to make me cry?
– That depends on you. So, here’s the file.
It’s a Dropbox link. I don’t really know
what to expect. I think she wants me to cry. I’m not going to cry. I’m really scared. Okay. ( cheering) Oh, my God. That’s only the second one?
That’s crazy. I have goosebumps. Look. ( gasps ) What is it?
Singapore or Thailand? That is too much water
for that plant. Joss:
The Thai commercial
where the guy is going arounddoing kind things for
everyone in his community,
it’s funny that
that was on my spreadsheet,
because when I started
researching this it turns out
that it’s a clipthat psychologists use to studythe emotion of being moved.There’s a study that askedpeople to track
when they started crying while they were watching
that video. And you can see that
around the two minute mark there’s this big jump
when people started crying. – Oh, I know what that is.
– What do you think it was? It’s the little girl
in her uniform. – It’s gotta be the little girl.
– It’s gotta be the little girl. – Yeah, that’s the moment.
– That’s the moment!That’s when
the character realizes
that the girl he’s been
donating money to…
…has begun to go to school.( music playing )And this finding comes
from a research group
that studies an emotion
that they call “kama muta,” which is a Sanskrit word
for “moved by love.” So, if you’ve ever
seen something that made you sort of
reflexively put your hand
on your chest or get chills or goosebumps or tears, they say
those are all symptoms of this distinct emotion
of being moved by love. So, their findings suggest that you’re likely
to experience this emotion when there’s
a sudden intensification of a communal relationship, when people feel themselves
suddenly closer to each other. And I think of it as kind
of like surprise intimacy. So we think that surprise is really important aspect
of that emotion,because if you just have
this relationship
and there’s
this really tiny change,
which is just happening
over several days, for example,
maybe you would feel
a bit happier,
but it wouldn’t be
this intense feeling
that you would have
just in the moment.
What? Are you serious? Are you serious? – Woman:
What does that say, babe?
– ( crying ) – What is that?
– ( crying ) Oh, God. When people say positive tears,
tears of joy, that always seemed a little bit
not right to me. It just seems like there’s
something more going on there than just joy or happiness.Yeah, we agree that it oftenis occurring together
with sadness,
and that’s basically also
the beauty of it, I guess,
because you often
have this contrast.
So, imagine,
the typical situation
would be if you reunite
unexpectedly with–
with a loved one you haven’t
seen for many years.
So there had to be
this kind of loss,
this background
that it would occur against.
( screaming )
Oh, my God! Would you consider yourself
someone who cries less often
than most people? I wouldn’t know. Like, I’m not sure
how frequently people cry. – But I would say–
– I could tell you that. Okay, please do. So, studies suggest
that in Western countries women cry on average
two to four times a month. – Wow.
– And men cry about once
every couple of months. Yeah, I would cry
about three times a year. – Oh, wow. Okay.
– Yeah. – But they’re–
they’re good ones.
– They’re good ones. Well, the good news
is that there is a study
about non-criers. And it found
that non-criers don’t differ from criers
in their well-being. They don’t seem to have
more depression or anxiety. So this notion
that crying is necessary
for mental health, that it’s a necessary release,
that doesn’t seem to be true. The director
of the debate team I was on in college
passed away. And all the alums came back
for a funeral, and everybody was crying
and I noticed that I was not. And it was the first funeral
I’d been to, and I realized that
that was different. And I felt like
I had to take measures to signal to others that
I was still affected by it because I wasn’t showing
the most obvious marker.( music playing )Joss:There was this survey
back in the late ’90s
that asked a bunch of countries
around the world
how often the people there cry.And what they expected
to find was that the countries that had
lower standard of living, the countries where they rated
themselves with lower well-being and the countries
with higher depression rates would be the ones
that cried more. But that’s not what they found. The dark blue countries
are the countries that reported
crying the most frequently. And the light green
are the ones that reported
crying the least. So you see here, we have
three countries in Africa. We have Nepal. These are countries where
the researchers would’ve assumed that the people there
would have objectively more reasons for crying. But what they found
was that it was the happier, wealthier countries
that cried more. And the variables
that correlated
with crying frequency were things like
the level of civil rights, the level of democracy,
extroversion, and individualism. And so what the studies suggest
is that crying, at least on
the international level, isn’t about how much distress
a population feels. Rather it’s about how much
that population feels they have the freedom
of emotional expression. I think there’s a special
comfort in crying publicly. It’s nice to be around
other people and know crying
is a part of your day just like your commute
or your lunch break. It’s just, oh, it’s cry time. It’s cry o’clock.( music playing )Crying evolved
as a signal to othersthat we need their help
in order to survive.
But for adults, crying can be
a message to ourselves,
if we pay attention. I think about him
a lot these days. He’s getting older,
I’m getting older, and, you know, time is not
stopping for anybody. It’s a matter of going through
life’s atrocities for me and– and yet I came out
on the bright side. Your tears are a signal
that you’re seeing something
important to you,and the memories and valuesthat start pouring out
of your eyes?
They can be surprising. There are a lot of things
that push my buttons. But what’s actually coming out could’ve been
building up for years. Dr. Vingerhoets had
a neat way of putting it. He said, “Apparently…”( music playing )Hello! Hi, guys!

88 thoughts on “Why Do We Cry? – Glad You Asked S1 (E2)

  1. Thanks for watching, everyone! I was a little embarrassed to admit all the cheesy things that made me cry, but after working on this episode, I've decided that crying is a really valuable reminder of the values you hold and the people (or animals) you care about. Those tears mean we aren't just saying that we care about things like kindness and justice, we actually do care on a fundamental level, maybe even more than we realize.

    Keep an eye out for new, free episodes of Glad You Asked every Tuesday. And don't forget to subscribe to our channel and turn on notifications (🔔) to get more Vox videos: http://bit.ly/voxyoutube

    -joss

  2. I have a question

    How come when I cry my dog knows and won't stop scratching my door until I open it. When I sit while holding him and crying, he also starts to cry. In the video they said that we are the only living thing that crying is mixed with our emotions. But how come he cry's with me if crying isn't involved with his emotions?

  3. I remember when I was around 12 first playing Slenderman and the "scary" parts always made me cry.. I like to be scared…I really like anything scary and horror… But I always…like..silently have to cry during spooky situations… The tears just flow.
    That's it.
    To this day, it still is like this. And I don't know why.

  4. I do it so much I feel by this point I should know that besides the anxiety, depression and stress there should has another explanation as to why I cry.

  5. I'm going on exchange to Italy for six months (from Aussie btw) I'm only 14 and I almost cry every day because of how scared I am and how lost I feel.

  6. Some elefants cries too, when they have a strong emotion, for example when they found their love partner, somes females where observed crying during the love parad ( sorry my english is so bad )

  7. I'm literally in pain right now and I'm here to divert my attention to others so I can smile but why Youtube, why this?

  8. I cry only when I'm really stressed which makes my anxiety flair then that causes me to cry more out of fear and stress

    Edit: Anger and frustration also causes that same thing to happen with my anxiety. Which is unfortunate because when my friends ask me what's wrong I get scared causing my fight or flight signal, then I lash out at them just for trying to help and comfort me.

  9. I read somewhere that ppl cry for all sorts of emotions if intensive enough. Like anger, sadness, happiness…

  10. I cry almost everyday because I'm very sensitive 😂 but I'm not depressed. And that's really useful because I want to be an actress lol

  11. I cry because of a thing i did, uhh… How do i explain, ok like dis.

    So i was angry and smacc people, they didnt cry but they were hurted so bad, i smacc them with a hard book i guess. And then i felt bad, so i apologize again and again, and i didnt realized i cried.

    I also cried remembering my mom passed away since 2017.

    I may also cries when i keeps all of my depression,like every depression, so here's a note.

    Dont ever keep depression, let it all out, okay? And do u wanna know why i cry and felt bad, its because it hurts me when i see someone is hurted. Second, i cry because i lost my loved ones, so yeah. Now

    Take dis note:
    Dont keep depression inside
    Let your tears falls, because its not gud to hold tears.

    I did the opposite of it… And i changed.. Okay?

  12. La última ves que llore fue hace un par de horas y fue porque mi hermano mayor me dijo por primera ves :
    yo también te quiero 💧

  13. when ever i feel pain i dont cry much, when ever i get made fun of and i cant do anything about it and i cant get my revenge then thats when i like really cry lol

  14. Well that's a first for vox to say the obvious that women cry more then men and that they are more empathetic withouts ideology

  15. I hate when people say "stop crying" it makes angrier and cry more and want to punch the one who told me to stop crying but i dont so I get angrier and frustrated. We all have our limit, our time to heal and hiding emotions is dangerous, please take care yourself ♡

  16. i cry every month, its either at the end of the month or if its just a super bad month i cry before the end of the month.

  17. i used to ask this question a lot when i was little just out of curiosity because it felt like i couldn’t control when i cried or how to stop. so i’m glad there is a good quality video about it with lots of information
    thank you

  18. I'm curious though, my dog seems to cry. She's wet in the tear duct area when left alone long. She has a lot of separation anxiety. Also, would be interesting to track my own tears. What qualifies as crying? I can feel the release of extra tears but is it only crying when it overflows?

  19. I cry for the people I meet that I know having a hard time . I kinda had these feeling that they are having tough times even tho they don't even make it obvious or don't even tell me. I just get this tingle from my body especially from my heart .. So yeah.. I cry for those strangers…
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .

    Oh, I also cry for my pitiful, boring, and lonely life.. Hehe..

  20. Why on my age in school we do learn all course of biology that includes also anatomy even if we don’t go after study in medical or biological institutes, and my generation (those who did not skip classes) knows why we are crying, and the new generation is not studying this at school???
    We Cry also because we have one nervous system. And strong emotions are perceived literally physically. When you are offended emotionally, but you feel physically hurt, and for this reason you cry.

  21. I cry when im angy and i cant stop it and in that moment i get even more angry because of it and then i cry more.. 😡😅

  22. you know that feeling when you feel so pressured the tears just randomly come out? because that’s what happened to me.

  23. What about Iran , we shia muslims we have big tradition of crying, we have many days during the year that we gathered together to cry for our martyrs

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