A clinical practice review of crying research

Lauren M. Bylsma*, Asmir Gracanin, Ad J.J.M. Vingerhoets

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The goal of this clinical practice review is to assess the current state of the theoretical and empirical literature on emotional crying (i.e., crying in response to an emotional stimulus), a topic that has received surprisingly limited attention of behavioral scientists and clinicians. Although the empirical research on emotional crying remains in a nascent state, we draw upon the existing scientific knowledge to provide preliminary suggestions for clinicians on how to interpret and respond to crying in clinical contexts. We also identify research gaps and provide recommendations for further research to improve our understanding of this intriguing and still poorly understood human behavior. We suggest that a better understanding of individual differences in crying behavior and the postulated intraindividual and interindividual functions of crying is of critical importance for clinicians, given its frequent occurrence and notable associations with emotional and social functioning. An improved characterization of this important phenomenon will lead to improvements in clinical assessment, treatment planning, and psychotherapy interventions
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2021


  • Crying
  • Individual differences
  • Psychotherapy process
  • Tears

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