Claudia Pitts

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Martin, Randall B.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Adjustment (Psychology); College students--Psychology; Crying


The purpose of this study, to examine the relationship between crying and college student adjustment, was approached using several methods of assessing crying and adjustment. Crying was assessed in two major ways: from questionnaires which measured a stable attitude toward crying (Cry/Cope) and by daily diaries. Adjustment was defined by the scores on the Symptom Checklist-90R (SCL-90R), Profile of Mood States (POMS), Freshman Cognitive Appraisal Rating Scale (FCARS), and the Psychosomatic Symptom Checklist (SOMA) which were administered twice, once prior to the start of the diaries and once immediately following them. The SCL-90R score, the POMS score, and the FCARS score were used as measures of psychological adjustment. The Psychosomatic Symptom Checklist score, on the other hand, represented physiological adjustment. Three hundred and eighty-four subjects were screened using the adjustment instruments and the crying questionnaire. Those with the 115 most elevated scores on the SCL-90R were asked to complete a diary for the remainder of the semester. Thirty subjects consented and completed the study; the mean number of diary reporting weeks was 8.5. The diaries contained information concerning frequency of crying, intensity, duration, and how the subject reported feeling after crying. Following the diary period, subjects were reassessed on the adjustment instruments. Females reported greater crying frequency and duration and had higher scores on the Cry/Cope questionnaires (£'s<.03). They, however, did not differ from males on the intensity of crying or on the results-of-crying (jd* s > .20). Scores on the post diary cry/cope questionnaire correlated significantly with the diary crying measures (£<.05). However, the initial cry/cope questionnaire did not correlate significantly with diary crying measures. Only the SCL-90R and SOMA demonstrated changes pre to post testing at a significant level (£'s<.05). Ultimately, it was shown that crying intensity correlated significantly and negatively with adjustment, both psychological and physiological, suggesting that higher crying is associated with poorer adjustment (£*s <.05). This conclusion is contradictory to those results predicted by a catharsis-based model. A second study was performed using the same crying instruments but using the Beck Depression Inventory to assess adjustment. The paradigm was the same as the previous study, except that the mean number of weeks was 3.5. No effects of crying on depression were obtained.


Includes bibliographical references (pages 68-76)


vii, 104 pages




Northern Illinois University

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