Recently I had a glance at this post from #8Fact on Facebook claiming that when you cry out of happiness, the first tear drop comes from your right eye, when you cry out of pain it comes from your left, and when you are frustrated, tears come from both eyes simultaneously. Has this been proved experimentally?

enter image description here

When a person cries and the first drop comes from the right eye, it's happiness. Left eye, pain. Both, frustration. #8FACT

  • 11
    I feel bad for saying this, but this is the kind of stuff that is so nonsensical that I don't even have an idea where to start looking to debunk this... like I can't imagine any modern scientist ever investigating this, and even if he would he wouldn't go through the trouble of publishing his non-result... as no one would bother reading it. – David Mulder Nov 22 '14 at 23:06
  • 6
    I don't know, it seems like the only reasonable line of inquiry is "did 8fact make this crap up themselves, or is i actually based on folklore from somewhere?" – StarWeaver Nov 23 '14 at 0:03
  • @StarWeaver Unfortunately this seems to be a widespread myth. Everyone quotes the same sentence with no reference, calling it a "psychological fact"... and people seem to believe it as well. This seems to debunk it trcpodcast.com/trc-236-crying-ghost-orbs-napoleon – nico Nov 23 '14 at 1:27
  • I'm crying out of pain and in silence and wondered why only the left teared significantly more the the right.... So I looked it ip and found this, maybe truth. – user31735 Mar 10 '16 at 22:20

My favorite podcast dedicated a rather long and thorough segment to this a while back in 2013-03-16. I think the result was that this could not be reproduced in studies.

Although the "both eyes at once" bit is a twist I hadn't heard of before today.

Podcast link: http://www.trcpodcast.com/trc-236-crying-ghost-orbs-napoleon/

(Cross link: same topic on Snopes: Crying left and right)

Edit 2014-11-25: Transcript from podcast episode below.

[05:55/38:24] Pat Roach: Doctor Nolfi is a well respected optometrist and recognised lecturer within the vision care industry. He’s the co-founder of the Toronto eye care clinic […].

[06:20/38:24] Pat Roach: So I wrote Jerry a note […] I think you’ll find his response interesting. […]

[07:15/38:24] Pat Roach quoting Jerry Nolfi: Based on my knowledge of the tearing system there appears to be no logical reason for each eye to discriminate its tearing function based on the emotional stressor/stimuli. I just don’t see it and the statement must be a myth.

[08:10/38:24] Pat Roach: What I really needed was an expert on crying. And I actually found one.


[08:20/38:24] Pat Roach: So doctor “Ad Vingerhoets” is a psychology professor at Tilburg University in the Netherlands. He’s one of the few psychologists in the world to actually have studied crying. […]

[10:55/38:24] Pat Roach: He had videos of people starting to cry and he was willing to have students analyse whether or not it was the left or the right eye based on the specific stimuli.


[11:04/38:24] Pat Roach quoting Dr. Ad Vingerhoets: Here’s a report about our observations. Ten participants cried during a “Loss” scene while watching a movie. And three participants cried during a “Reunion” scene.

Elan Dubrovski: Aah!

Adam Gardner: What was the movie?

Pat Roach: He didn’t mention.

[11:21/38:24] Pat Roach: In two of the participants who cried during the reunion scene, tears dropped first from the right eye and then [in] the third participant they dropped at the same moment from both eyes.

[11:30/38:24] Pat Roach: During the “loss” scene tears started falling down first from the left eye in six of the participants and the right eye in four of the participants.

[11:40/38:24] Elan Dubrovski: Seems pretty close to even.

[11:44/38:24] Pat Roach: He goes on to say: “So I conclude there is no clear connection between which eye cries first and the specific antecedent. Hope this helps. Best regards, Ad."


[11:50/38:24] Pat Roach: So while that’s not a very big sample size, I think the fact that Dr. Vingerhoets’ team has found exceptions to this, quote, “fact”, coupled with Dr. Nolfi’s opinion we can draw some fairly strong conclusions: This is a myth and [it] appears we here at TRC, with the kind help of these two doctors, are the first to really bust it.

  • 9
    Welcome to Skeptics! It would help if you could tell us where in the podcast to listen, or provide a transcript, or - even better - follow up their primary sources to where they learnt the answer, and quote them. (The Snopes link doesn't appear to have any empirical evidence, just people discussing it and mentioning a podcast.) – Oddthinking Nov 23 '14 at 10:42
  • 2
    I've edited the answer. I've added a partial transcript of the episode in question. I don't know if the results have been published anywhere else. (So I think this is as close to primary source as it gets.) – StackzOfZtuff Nov 24 '14 at 16:32
  • 1
    I don't think a podcast is a good source for this website. The thing that matters for isn't expert opinion but scientific studies. – Christian May 7 '15 at 19:42
  • 1
    It was a study. Just with a very low sample size. – StackzOfZtuff May 7 '15 at 20:13

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .