Tears and gratitude

Expressing and receiving gratitude emphasises the communal bonds between the one who thanks and the one who is thanked. It’s power is even enhanced when one sees other people joining in. Three wonderful examples from this week:

First, Joe Biden tears up when Obama surprises him with the Medal of Freedom. He even has turn around and hide his first upwelling of tears.

Next, Michelle Obama tears up when expressing gratitude at an event celebrating school counselors. Also, look at all the women around her with tears in their eyes.

Finally, Obama tears up when he thanks his wife in his farewell speech – but actually, it seems he tears up mainly because of seeing the standing ovations by the crowd.

Of course, we are not tearing up all the time when we express gratitude. For the tears of kama muta to appear, you need a stark contrast. What probably contributes is the contrast to what that these three anticipate is going to happen next in the White House.

New empirical paper: Time series of being moved and its cross-correlates

Cognition and Emotion published our first empirical paper on kama muta!

Full text at Cognition and Emotion

Last unedited draft of our own

Visualisation of a part of these data: Observe at what points in a video clip kama muta rises.


It also got picked up by @Neuroskeptic right away…


President Obama talks about when he tears up

President Barack Obama, interviewed by David Axelrod in the podcast The Axe Files, December 2016, Ep. 108

“There are two things that can get me teary. One is talking about my daughters or seeing my daughters. And the second is my team. You remember after 2012, when I went over to the campaign office and I saw all those kind who had been working so hard and it is the same kind of emotion that stirs up – this deep gratitude for their devotion and, I think, an appreciation that even though from their perspective I am the one inspiring them, in fact all I am doing is drawing from their energy. They are the ones inspiring me. I am reflecting back what is inside of them, which is just a lot of goodness and a lot of heart and idealism. That gets me choked up.”