British Journal of Developmental Psychology

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Volume 20 Issue 1 (March 2002), Pages 1-156

Crying during adolescence: The role of gender, menarche, and empathy (pages 77-87)

It is a well‐established fact that adult women cry more frequently than adult men. However, in babies and young children no gender differences in crying frequency are found. Frey (1985) has postulated that boys and girls start to diverge in crying with the onset of menses in girls. The aim of the present study was to examine gender differences in crying during adolescence and the role of menarche and empathy. Participants were 216 boys and 265 girls, age 11 to 16, who completed questionnaires on crying frequency, crying proneness, empathy, and (for girls only) menarche. It appeared that girls cried more frequently and were more prone to cry than boys in all age groups. Gender differences increased with age mainly because of a decrease in crying among boys. Onset of menstruation did not have an effect on the crying measures. Empathy, on the other hand, was strongly associated with crying. Older girls were more empathic than younger girls, whereas for boys the relationship between empathy and age was weaker. It can be concluded that gender differences in crying develop before age 11 and that menarche does not play a significant role in crying in girls.

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