Sympathy Crying: Insights from Infrared Thermal Imaging on a Female Sample

Dr. Stephanos Loannou, Assistant Professor of Physiology at Alfaisal COM, would like to share his recently published research article entitled: Sympathy Crying: Insights from Infrared Thermal Imaging on a Female Sample.


Background: Peripheral physiology monitoring can provide insights to self-regulation in an affective social context. Part of peripheral physiology is also thermal regulations mediated by internal physiological states such as heart rate, perspiration as well as vascular constriction or vasodilation and in certain occasions muscular activity. Variability in autonomic function within a social context is readily depicted on the face and according to the emotion there is an adjacent thermal mark.  Modern technological advancement allow us to harness these signal enriching our understanding about human nature in a naturalistic experimental context. Thermal imaging provides a novel avenue for the study of social psychophysiology as the face, in addition to its communicative value, provides easy access to contact-free affective physiological monitoring. Most importantly peripheral physiology provides a feedback loop between the body and the brain where bodily responses facilitate learning and adapt social behavior. Disruption of this loop has crucial psychosocial consequences commonly manifested in depression, schizophrenia as well as psychopathy.
Results: The results of Dr. Loannou’s et. Al., study suggest that tears of sympathy are part of a complex autonomic interaction between the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous systems, with the latter preceding the former. The emotional origin of the phenomenon seems to derive from subjective internal factors that relate to one’s personal experiences and attributes with tears arising in the form of catharses or as part of shared sadness.

Further details about the article can be retrieved through this link: