Did a scientific study find that people who cry during movies are the strongest people of all? No, that's not true: This is a click-bait claim that misrepresents the conclusions of a study about the affects of emotional stories on the brain's chemistry in the brain, which then makes people more willing to donate to charities. The research did not measure the strength of people who cry during movies.
The claim originated from an article (archived here) where published by awarenessact.com on November 28, 2019 under the title "The People Who Cry During Movies Are The Strongest People Of All". It opened:
While some people make fun of others for crying in public or shedding a few tears during sad films, those who are letting their eyes water might be much stronger than you think. The more we can empathize with the pains we see on the big screen the more powerful we are in real life.
As someone who tends to cry on an extreme level when something sad happens during a movie, coming across this study was wonderful for me. This study is from a few years ago but really holds some amazing information. If you're a 'sensitive' person, you're going to want to hear this.
Neuroeconomist Paul J. Zak conducted a study that was published in the journal Cerebrum - PMC that was titled 'Why Inspiring Stories Make Us React: The Neuroscience of Narrative' that broke down why we do exactly that. This study found that those who cry during movies or get choked up while reading a book are stronger in their day-to-day lives than those who do not and much better at dealing with their own emotions. While we know that the stories we're hearing or seeing are not real, we resonate with the characters before us and cannot help but be drawn in.
This is what social media users saw:
Neuroeconomist Paul J. Zak's study "Why Inspiring Stories Make Us React: The Neuroscience of Narrative" is a real study and we read every word. It was fascinating. But it had nothing to do with the amount of tears you might shed while watching Bambi's mother die in a theater. It does take a scientific look at how your brain reacts to emotional narratives. The editor's note described it this way:
The man behind the discovery of the behavioral effect of a neurochemical in the brain called oxytocin wondered if the molecule might motivate people to engage in cooperative behaviors. In a series of tests using videos, his lab discovered that compelling narratives cause oxytocin release and have the power to affect our attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.
It did not measure a person's strength by their tears. The publisher of this story either did not actually read the story, or decided it was acceptable to misrepresent the study so that the website could make money off of your clicking. This is what we call click bait.
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