Term of Award

Summer 1991

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Department

Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Janice H. Kennedy

Committee Member 1

Richard L. Rogers

Committee Member 2

Paul R. Kleinginna, Jr.

Abstract

This study examined the relationship between perceived competence and crying behaviors in adults. It was hypothesized that female subjects would rate those who cry as more competent than would male raters; females who cry would be rated as more competent than males who cry; and low status individuals who cry would be rated as higher in competence than would high status individuals. Additionally, crying in response to major events and to personal events would be rated as more appropriate than crying due to minor and/or professional events. Subjects in this investigation were selected from the Introductory Psychology Subject Pools at Georgia Southern University and Armstrong State College. Subjects were administered a short questionnaire consisting of a brief narrative in which a fictional character cries. Then subjects were asked to answer questions measuring the perceived competence of the character and the appropriateness of his/her crying behavior. The questionnaires varied according to gender of fictional character, status (professor or student), type of event (professional or personal crisis), and severity of the event (major or minor). The dependent measures were personal competence, professional competence, and appropriateness of crying, all of which were computed from response ratings on six-point Likert-type questions. Three 2x2x2x2x2 ANOVAs were run on the data from 415 subjects. The results indicate that female subjects rated characters who cried higher in professional competence and rated their crying as more appropriate than did male subjects. Female characters received higher ratings of personal competence than did male subjects, and their crying was rated as more appropriate than was crying by male characters. There was no difference in ratings given to high-status individuals and low-status individuals. Crying due to personal events was viewed as more appropriate than crying due to professional events. Crying due to major events was viewed as more appropriate than crying due to minor events, and characters who cried following major events were rated as more professionally and personally competent than characters who cried due to minor events. There were also several complex interaction effects found.

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