While Congressman Anthony Weiner’s tears might have been sincere during a press conference in which he apologized for sending explicit pictures of himself to several women, it may not gain him any sympathy with the public. “A little crying may have fared better if Weiner had confessed earlier on, when the tweeted picture first surfaced. ‘Tears then may have been a bit more accepted as a sign of contrition,’ says Valerie Manusov, a professor of communication who studied Hillary Clinton’s 2008 crying incident on the presidential campaign trail. ‘Now they are more likely seen as a manipulation.'”
What’s the Big Idea?
While tears express the need for emotional support, not everyone responds positively to someone welling up. “A 2006 study in Cognition and Emotion found that although people feel connected to and supportive of a crying person, the crier’s presence also makes them uncomfortable and tense. In a follow-up study in the Journal of Social Psychology in 2008, the inclination to offer support held true, but participants judged a crying person more negatively than a non-crying person, felt more negative emotions in their presence, and associated more negative characteristics with a creer than a non-crier.”