Tears are a clear liquid secreted by the tear gland found in the eyes of all land mammals except for goats and rabbits. Their functions include lubricating the eyes, removing irritants and aiding the immune system. Tears also occur as a part of the body's natural pain response. Humans are the only mammals known to produce tears as part of an emotional response, such as out of joy or grief. Emotional secretion of tears may serve a biological function by excreting stress-inducing hormones built up through times of emotional distress. Tears are made up of water, electrolytes, proteins, lipids, and mucins that form layers on the surface of eyes.
In nearly all human cultures, crying is associated with tears trickling down the cheeks and accompanied by characteristic sobbing sounds. Emotional triggers are most often sadness and grief, but crying can also be triggered by anger, happiness, fear, laughter or humor, frustration, remorse, or other strong, intense emotions. Crying is often associated with babies and children. Some cultures consider crying to be undignified and infantile, casting aspersions on those who cry publicly, except if it is due to the death of a close friend or relative. In most Western cultures, it is more socially acceptable for women and children to cry than men, reflecting masculine sex-role stereotypes. In some Latin regions, crying among men is more acceptable. There is evidence for an interpersonal function of crying as tears express a need for help and foster willingness to help in an observer.
Some modern psychotherapy movements encourage crying as beneficial to health and mental well-being. An insincere display of grief or dishonest remorse is sometimes called crocodile tears in reference to an Ancient Greek anecdote that crocodiles would pretend to weep while luring or devouring their prey.
- Which of these animals produce tears?
- Why do people usually cry when in pain?
- Which statement could likely express falsehood?
- How does crying affect humanity?
- What do "crocodile tears" imply?