In a not yet published study, 23andMe scientists looking at data from almost 200,000 customers of European ancestry who consented to research found a dozen genetic variants associated with whether a person cries easily or not. Crying is an emotional response that makes humans unique from other primates, and some would argue it’s what makes us human.
But in 23andMe’s study, researchers wanted to look more deeply into the emotional response and whether there were genetic reasons for some of us crying more easily than others.
Some of the research findings were presented last year at the American Society of Human Genetics annual conference, but the study includes non-genetic associations as well as genetic ones. For instance, the study found that boys do cry, but just not as much as girls. According to the research women are three times more likely to “cry easily” when compared to men. Both men and women are more prone to cry as they age or if one of their parents was more likely to cry easily.
Beyond finding several different genetic markers associated with crying easily, the study offered some interesting avenues for future study. The variants identified were found in or near genes involved with brain development (IRX2 and ZNF423) , hormone synthesis (HSD17B12) and certain mood disorders (6q16.1). This could help researchers studying affective disorders, among other things.
23andMe offers its customers the opportunity to participate in research if they want. They can also opt out of research at any time. We are thankful to our customers who participated, making this and other studies like it possible. Learn more about participating in research, or opting out of it, here.