The meaning of tears: Which sex seems emotional depends on the social context

Agneta H. Fischer*, Alice H. Eagly, Suzanne Oosterwijk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


The media coverage sometimes given to crying women points to the importance of understanding whether gender affects interpretations of crying. This article reports two studies that examined whether observers infer different emotions or dispositions from crying men and women. Study 1 showed that, in the absence of information about the social context of crying, participants inferred gender-stereotypical traits and emotions. Study 2's manipulation of the social context of crying (relationship versus employment) affected participants' interpretations of crying by men and women. In employment contexts, participants perceived crying men as more emotional and sad than crying women as well as less competent. The emotionality inferences mediated the judgments of differing male and female competence. In relationship contexts, interpretations of crying women and men did not differ.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)505-515
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Oct 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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