Tears | Melting Asphalt

I want to talk about crying, or to be more precise, weeping or emotional tears. Humans … are the only ones who unite tears and noisy crying together in a single behavior.

the question to ask about crying isn’t, “What causes it (as a symptom)?” but rather, “What is a human creature trying to achieve by doing it (as a behavior)?”

The goal of our investigation is to explain three things: First, what weeping accomplishes. Second, how we evolved to do it. And third, why only humans weep.

In particular, they’re a social behavior, something we evolved to do because of their effects on the people around us. In the language of biology, then: Tears are a signal.

communication is fundamentally cooperative. When there’s no overlap of interest, there’s no basis for communication

we, as receivers, often feel manipulated by someone else’s tears is the giveaway that crying is a signal — i.e., because it aims to change our behavior. … a submission signal … a distress signal

I’d like to throw my hat into the ring, by providing my own hypothesis for how and why tears evolved.

it’s a way of giving up dominance in the hope of earning allies.

inherently they’re just a piece of social technology, a device for coordinating the tradeoff between dominance and social support. And this invention turns out to be useful in a variety of scenarios.

Source: Tears | Melting Asphalt by Kevin Simler

More: Why Only Humans Weep by Ad Vingerhoets