Many females can't resist the opportunity to watch a good tearjerker movie with their pals on a Saturday night, handing the tissues around as they cry over flicks such as The Notebook or The Fault in Our Stars. But what is it that women find so appealing about sobbing at a film?
According to new research from Cardiff University, women are able to enjoy the happy moments of a movie more and feel less sad about the tragic scenes if they share their emotions with one another.
Thirty pairs of female friends, aged between 20 and 33, took part in the study. They were asked to rate a selection of emotionally powerful images on a scale, ranging from 'very negative' to 'very positive', and results showed that when the women were together they were likely to see the pictures in a more uplifting light.
'Women seem to have higher empathic skills'
Findings were published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.
"Our findings suggest that a negative emotional experience such as watching a ‘weepy’ is more positive when it is shared with a friend," Job van der Schalk, a psychologist at Cardiff University, said.
"And, at the same time, a positive emotional experience, such as watching a ‘rom-com’, should equally be more pleasant when shared."
The study noted that this notion is reflected through people going to the cinema together, as they "anticipate a positive subjective impact of sharing this emotional experience".
This could explain why movies such as Marley & Me rack up such high takings at the global box office, with the 2008 flick reigning in £160 million following its release.
There are other theories about why women cry more than men in general, and Professor Ad Vingerhoets, a clinical psychologist at Tilburg University in The Netherlands, has looked into the differences between their tear shedding. He has published the book Why Only Humans Weep: Unravelling the Mysteries of Tears and puts the diversity between males and females down to their exposure to "emotion-inducing situations".
“Women seem to have higher empathic skills, their bonds with other women are different in nature than male bonds, they are more likely to work in health care or with children, they watch more sad movies and read more about broken marriages and unhappy children," he explains.
Crying isn't something to be ashamed of; it can help you tackle various problems. Weeping can aid stress relief, dealing with sorrow and is even thought to wash toxins out of our bodies.
However, crying all the time isn't a good thing, as it could be a sign of conditions such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. If you find yourself tearing up more often than usual, it's best to schedule a visit to your GP.
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