Carrie Lane

Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology



First Advisor

Roger Mellgren


The evolutionary function of gender differences in adult crying was investigated, specifically whether females were selected to cry more than males ostensibly to aid in their survival. Both studies were based on the idea that crying is a signal to others that attention is needed. Study 1 examined how female crying acts as a signal to alert males during a conflict that they have overstepped boundaries, and thus, crying prevents conflict escalation. Study 2 investigated female crying as a signal that requests help and acts as a catalyst in bonding between females, thus strengthening their social networks and increasing their protection from males and predators. Results for both studies provide partial support for predictions of crying as an evolutionarily adaptive behavior. Study 1 found that conflict resolution was reported more when the female character cried at the end of conflict suggesting that crying is signaling a need for attention or support. Conflict escalation was reported more in the condition where the female character does not cry. This suggests that when there is no signal for need, the conflict is more likely to end in escalation. The only significant result from study two was that female participants felt closer to the female confederate on the film clip than did male participants, across all conditions. This supports previous research that asserts females' need for social networks to aid in survival. This research is primarily exploratory and the preliminary evidence indicates that with methodological adjustments future research should be more conclusive in supporting the predictions for the evolution of gender differences in adult crying.


Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington

Included in

Psychology Commons