08/01/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Tears Demystified: Why Humans Cry

Crying is an emotional reaction that's completely unique to humans. Our capacity for complex thoughts and feelings means that we can cry whether we're overwhelmed with any emotion--happiness, despair, or fear--but not everyone cries the same way or for the same reasons. Some people break into tears at the drop of a hat; others remain stony-faced even when confronted with great tragedy or pain. Understanding the impulse to cry isn't always easy, but understanding the psychological and evolutionary reasons we do it is even more complicated.

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