Thursday, October 6, 2011

Research Concludes Tebow's Crying Beneficial

Back in December of 2009 we wrote an entry as part of our "Sunday Challenges" called "Have a Good Cry"  in the wake of the very disappointing SEC Championship Game loss. And now there is research, based on the now (in)famous incident of Tim Tebow crying after the game, that indicates that crying, and expressing emotion for one's teammates, gives players a mental edge over those that don't.  Our then wish in the aftermath and media storm of "Tebow Crying" has possibly come true.
The Story Tebow's Eye Black Tells

If the fascination and schadenfreude of Tebow's crying is any indication, it's that we as a society know how to celebrate a victory, but do not know how to process and mourn a loss and emerge from it stronger and freer. Hopefully, Tebow and his eye black can be a good example and lesson in this as well.

Here's the research:

While there's no crying in baseball, as Tom Hanks' character famously proclaimed in "A League of Their Own," crying in college football might not be a bad thing, at least in the eyes of one's teammates.

Although college football players feel pressure to conform to some male stereotypes, players who display physical affection toward their teammates are happier, according to new research. The findings were reported in a special section of Psychology of Men & Masculinity, published by the American Psychological Association.
"Overall, college football players who strive to be stronger and are emotionally expressive are more likely to have a mental edge on and off the field," said psychologist Jesse Steinfeldt, PhD, of Indiana University-Bloomington, who co-authored each article in the special section.
...
"In 2009, the news media disparaged University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow for crying on the sidelines after losing a big game, even labeling him Tim 'Tearbow,'" said psychologist Y. Joel Wong, PhD, the study's lead author. "However, the college football players in our study who believed Jack's crying was appropriate had higher self-esteem. In contrast, players who believed Jack's crying was inappropriate yet felt they would likely cry in Jack's situation had lower self-esteem."
In another experiment at the same colleges, researchers surveyed 153 football players, also mostly white and with an average age of 19. The researchers asked the players if they felt pressured to act a certain way because society expects men to be powerful and competitive, and to show little emotion and affection in front of other men. Other studies have shown that this type of pressure to conform can lead to poor self-esteem and disruptive behavior. The researchers also asked the players about their overall life satisfaction and how they expressed emotions on and off the field.
The study found players do feel pressure to conform to these gender roles. But players who were never affectionate toward their teammates were less satisfied with life. 

For further reading:

Article: "A Contextual Examination of Gender Role Conflict Among College Football Players," Jesse A. Steinfeldt, PhD, Y. Joel Wong, PhD, Aleska R. Hagan, PhD, and Jacquelyn M. Hoag, PhD, Indiana University-Bloomington; Matthew C. Steinfeldt, PhD, Fort Lewis College; Psychology of Men & Masculinity, Vol. 12, No. 4.
http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/men-ofp-steinfeldt-053011.pdf

Article: "Drive for Muscularity and Conformity to Masculine Norms Among College Football Players," Jesse A. Steinfeldt, PhD, Indiana University-Bloomington; Garrett A. Gilchrist, PhD, Pacific Lutheran University; Aaron W. Halterman, PhD, and Alexander Gomory, PhD, Indiana University-Bloomington; Matthew C. Steinfeldt, PhD, Fort Lewis College; Psychology of Men & Masculinity, Vol. 12, No. 4.
http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/men-ofp-steinfeldt-080811.pdf

Article: "Men's Tears: Football Players' Evaluations of Crying Behavior," Y. Joel Wong, PhD, Jesse A. Steinfeldt, PhD, Julie R. LaFollette, PhD, and Shu-Ching Tsao, Indiana University-Bloomington; Psychology of Men & Masculinity, Vol. 12, No. 4.
http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/men-ofp-wong-111510.pdf