Boys Do Cry: Adam Smith on Wealth and Expressing Emotions
Journal of Scottish Philosophy. March 2017 (Forthcoming)
12 Pages Posted: 19 Dec 2016
Date Written: December 17, 2016
Recent studies on crying show that crying is more common in happier, freer, and richer countries than in poorer and less free countries. These results can sound counterintuitive and contradict the hypothesis that crying is more observable in countries where people experience more distress. Adam Smith may offer an explanation: In the severe hardship of poverty, showing emotion and distress can be read as a sign of weakness, attracting no sympathy and compromising survival. As a result, emotional displays are avoided. Instead, wealthier commercial societies offer ease and tranquility which allows individuals to express their emotions with fewer negative consequences.
Keywords: Adam Smith, expression of emotion, crying, stoicism, commercial societies, distress, poverty
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