You know the recent study that concluded venting is not an effective stress management strategy? Well here’s another bit on the science of emotion that won’t make you feel any better: a good cry isn’t all that good.
The study, published in the Journal of Research in Personality, looked at the diaries of 97 Dutch women between 18 and 48. The women were asked to keep a daily record of their feelings and crying jags over several months. Researchers had about 1,000 crying episodes to look at.
What they found was that for only a minority of the criers — about 1/3 — the crying sessions lived up to “good cry” status and gave them a boost in their mood. For more than 60 percent, though, crying left them feeling no better and sometimes even worse.
For those whom experienced a pay-off from crying, intensity, rather than duration tended to be the deciding factor. It also helped when the crying wasn’t alone.
The scientists speculated from the data that intense sobbing attracted attention and so the boost in mood actually came from having someone to share their troubles with.
The takeaway? Feel free to cry it out. But if you’re looking to feel better, go be sad to a friend. Just, um, don’t vent. Who knew feeling better could take so much effort?
Photo: Neal Fowler via flickr