On the Functions of Sadness and Grief

  • David HuronEmail author


An account of sadness and grief is offered that focuses on their evolutionary function. Sadness and grief are distinct yet complementary adaptive responses to stress. Sadness is characterized by low physiological arousal, whereas grief is characterized by higher physiological arousal and a propensity to weep. Three general responses to stress are proposed: (1) an immune response, principally an energy-conserving state that is coordinated with enhanced immune activity; (2) a cognitive response, principally a reflective disposition characterized by more realistic situational appraisals, ultimately encouraging adaptive actions; and (3) a social response, minimally an appeal to halt aggression and, more broadly, an appeal for altruistic assistance.


Sadness Grief Crying Weeping Function Evolution 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Cognitive and Brain SciencesOhio State UniversityColumbusUSA

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