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Abstract

Although crying is woven through the life course, from the doctor’s slap to a deathbed vigil, there is no well-established lifespan tradition of studying crying. Instead the study of crying is broken into separate bodies of work on childhood (mostly on infants) and on adults. In this contribution, we share our enthusiasm and our ideas for the construction of a lifespan narrative of crying behavior. The evolutionary and phylogenic basis of crying is first outlined. We highlight the most important transitions in humans, including changes in the antecedents of crying, and the ways crying is increasingly regulated. We piece together existing research on these transitions and identify key gaps in knowledge, including the developmental periods, such as adolescence and old age, that have been the most seriously neglected. Finally, we suggest key empirical and methodological future directions that will most invigorate the study of crying as a developmental phenomenon.