Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Speaking science: Do women cry more for a biological reason?

Crying while you speak is one of those double-edged swords for women speakers. Those who do it are seen as weak and overly emotional, compared to men.  But at least one researcher, William H. Fry II, thinks women do cry more, and do so thanks to biology. He says it might all boil down to a hormonal difference, described here in the New York Times:

....both men and women have more of certain chemicals in the tears they shed because of emotional reasons...Among these substances are the hormones prolactin (associated with milk production) and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), and the neurotransmitter leucine enkephalin, all of which are released when the body is under stress....Dr. Frey speculates that because women’s tears show significantly higher levels of prolactin between the ages of 15 and 30, the difference could be associated with frequent tears, to excrete the excess. It has also been suggested that prolactin itself stimulates tears in both sexes.
Frey is the author of Crying: The Mystery of Tears.

Related posts: The all-in-one on tears while speaking

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