London: A good cry can indeed make people feel better, according to a new study which found that watching tearjerker films improved the moods of viewers 90 minutes after the movies ended.
Asmir Gracanin of the University of Tilburg in the Netherlands and his team videotaped a group of participants while watching the emotionally charged films Life Is Beautiful (La vita e bella) and Hachi: A Dog's Tale.
Afterwards, the participants were asked a few times to reflect on how they felt.
Researchers examined both the immediate and the delayed effect of crying on mood within a controlled laboratory setting. The two films shown to 60 participants are known to be tearjerkers.
Immediately afterwards, the 28 participants who cried and the 32 who didn't shed a tear were asked how they felt. They also had to rate their moods 20 and 90 minutes later.
The mood of the non-criers was unchanged and unaffected immediately after seeing the films. The mood of the criers, on the other hand, was distinctively low and even took a dip.
Within 20 minutes, however, their mood had returned to the level reported before the screening.
Finally, after 90 minutes, the criers reported even a better mood than was the case before the films started. Such a mood shift was not tied to the number of times that a person cried during the films.
According to Gracanin, it's this dip and subsequent return of emotions to previous levels that might make criers feel as if they are in a much better mood after they have shed some tears.
The study found that it seemed the criers even experience a general mood increase, but only after a longer period of time.
"After the initial deterioration of mood following crying, it takes some time for the mood not only to recover but also to be lifted above the levels at which it had been before the emotional event," Gracanin said.
The study was published in Springer's journal Motivation and Emotion.