It's OK to cry. In fact, for men, weeping has become the ultimate sign of masculinity, according to new research.
In the week after England's footballers bawled as they fizzled out of the World Cup, researchers have revealed that public perception of what it means to weep has changed dramatically.
But the match-losing players should beware; full-on blubbing, as seen by Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, does not go down well. Rather, people consider it a sign of strength to shed a quiet, restrained tear.
Psychologists who carried out the research with almost 300 people also found that a man who cries when faced with great sadness is viewed more positively than a weeping woman.
"Certain types of expressions that were socially proscribed for men in the past are now becoming acceptable," said Professor Stephanie Shields, who led the research.
Until recently, she suggested, crying was associated with sensitive weak men, while now it is linked to strong, powerful men.
One of her theories, outlined in a new book, Group Dynamics and Emotional Expression, is that perceptions have been changed by a series of dramatic public events including 11 September, the Dunblane school shootings and the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. In all of these, powerful men have been seen to cry in public.
"The events of 11 September 2001 seem to have brought about yet another change in the criteria for public displays of intense sadness by men," said Professor Shields. The tears shed by Tony Blair following Dunblane are very much viewed as strong and positive.
"What our research shows is that how your tears are evaluated depends upon three things," said Professor Shields, who is based at Pennsylvania State University in the US.
"Number one is what you are crying about. If it is something very important like the death of a loved one, that is significant because it is something you have no direct control over.
"Number two is how you cry. We have found that the right way to cry is to show you have the strong feeling, but with a moist eye, and single tear.
"Outright crying is typically more negatively evaluated than the moist eye which shows the intensity of tears but also shows you are in control of yourself.
"The third factor is to be male. We found that when a situation is very serious, even if there is open crying, people are understanding. The advantage is given to men. Our best guess is that what is happening is that there is the assumption that if he is tearful it must be important."
Unsurprisingly, tears of anger or self-pity are unlikely to evoke much public sympathy. Daniel Hardman was given a six-month jail term last week for smashing a glass in a pub landlord's face and for witness intimidation. But after he broke down in Liverpool Crown Court a judge suspended the sentence.
Asked if he was crying for himself, he replied: "Yes, I didn't want to go to prison." He was then asked if he was upset about his victims. "No, I was just more bothered about going to prison."Reuse content