Why People Cry When They’re Happy

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW HAVEN, Conn.) — Crying is a normal response when something terrible or sad has occurred. Yet, crying also happens during times of joy or pleasant surprises. Who hasn’t shed tears during a dramatic movie or TV show that ends on an upbeat note? The same can happen to a parent when a child returns from college or the military or to an athlete whose performance turns a certain loss into a shocking victory.

Yale psychologist Oriana Aragon decided to investigate why people display negative reactions such as crying at positive events. In one experiment, she discovered that people who pinch cute baby’s cheeks, which is certainly not pleasant for the infant, are usually the type who also cry during graduations.

Aragon concluded that these negative reactions “seem to take place when people are overwhelmed with strong positive emotions, and people who do this seem to recover better from those strong emotions.”

Clearly, people who cry when they’re happy probably don’t know why they do it but as Aragon explains, it likely helps them avoid more extreme forms of emotion.

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