2 MIN READ | Cognitive Psychology

News Release

People Are 63% More Likely to Cry Over Film Scenes with Animals Than with Humans

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News Release, (2022, August 5). People Are 63% More Likely to Cry Over Film Scenes with Animals Than with Humans. Psychreg on Cognitive Psychology. https://www.psychreg.org/people-more-likely-cry-over-film-scenes-animals-than-humans/
Reading Time: 2 minutes

You might not admit it to your friends, but everyone has that one film that makes them cry like there’s no tomorrow. Previous research into what makes people cry has revealed a range of factors that lead to us shedding tears during a film, including animal scenes, character break-ups, tearful reunions, and sudden goodbyes.

While there are a vast array of film moments that tug at our heartstrings, have you ever wondered which films and actors make people cry the most? 

Researchers prepared a seed list of 400 films known to make people cry dating back to the 1930s and analysed a random sample of up to 1,000 audience reviews per film (300,000 reviews in total) on RottenTomatoes to find mentions of the reviewer crying.

Key findings

  • People are 63% more likely to cry at animal scenes in films than human scenes. 
  • The saddest animal-based films is Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (2009). For every 1,000 reviews of this Richard Gere drama, 176.5 mentioned the reviewer crying. 
  • My Dog Skip (2000) starring Frankie Muniz and a lovable Jack Russell terrier is the second saddest, followed by the dog-based classics Where The Red Fern Grows (1974), Old Yeller (1957), and Marley & Me (2008).

Are people more likely to cry over animals or humans in films? As it turns out, we’re all animal lovers at the films: animals on the silver screen tug at our heartstrings much more often than films centred around humans. On average, for every 1,000 online reviews of animal films; 52 mentioned the reviewer crying. In comparison, the same was true for 32 reviews of human-based films per 1,000.

FilmsPeople crying per 1K reviews
Animal-based films52
Human-based films32

The saddest animal film, according to audience reviews

  • The saddest animal-based film is Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (2009). For every 1,000 reviews of this Richard Gere drama, 176.5 mentioned the reviewer crying. 
  • My Dog Skip (2000) starring Frankie Muniz and a lovable Jack Russell terrier is the second saddest, followed by the dog-based classics Where The Red Fern Grows (1974), Old Yeller (1957), and Marley & Me (2008).

RankFilmPeople crying per 1K reviews
1Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (2009)176.5
2My Dog Skip (2000)171.7
3Where The Red Fern Grows (1974)147.1
4Old Yeller (1957)142.1
5Marley & Me (2008)124.4
6A Dog’s Purpose (2017)106.2
7The Fox And The Hound (1981)88.2
8Red Dog (2011)80.3
9Eight Below (2006)75.2
10Lassie Come Home (1943)75

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