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This Is Why You Like to Cry In the Shower

Hot, steamy, sad

(Walter Zerla/Blend Images/Corbis)
smithsonian.com

If life throws you a curveball or two, you might feel tears welling up. If those tears tend to come in the shower, you’re not alone. But why is the shower cry so common…and so satisfying?

Social psychology has some answers, reports New York Magazine’s Alice Robb. Though it’s tough to actually study the act of sobbing while showering, she writes, “psychologists do have some interesting ideas about the shower-cry.”

Robb turns first to the work of psychologist Lauren Bylsma, who looked at data from 5,096 people in 35 countries to figure out where and how people cry. She found that 62 percent of self-reported crying episodes took place at home, and 35 percent of crying episodes had no witnesses. “People are most likely to cry at home and by themselves,” she told Robb. Showers often check off both those boxes.

Crying in the shower could also be interpreted as combining two comforting activities, writes Robb. Or perhaps it depends on the reason. “People who are crying out of a sense of guilt or regret may be more likely to find themselves in the shower in the first place,” she writes, citing research that shows people who are asked to remember an unethical deed are more likely to cleanse themselves with antiseptic wipes.

So next time you shed a few tears while lathering up, rest assured—you're at least not alone in your favorite crying spot. Then again, you might just be hiding out in the shower to escape the possibility of having your emotions filmed by someone wielding a smartphone, like this little girl whose Lion King-induced tears recently went viral.

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