Contagious Yawning May Predict Psychopathic Tendencies In Humans

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Most of us have experienced someone yawning near us, then having a sudden urge to yawn as well. It’s a phenomenon common to mankind. The phenomenon has also been observed in great apes, dogs, pigs, birds and other social species.

Studies have shown that more empathic people are more susceptible to contagious yawning. New research, however, has shown something more ominous. In essence, the new study showed that people who score higher for psychopathic traits are less likely to yawn in response to someone else yawning.

That begs the question: if your boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse or boss never yawn back when you yawn, do you have reason for concern? Maybe. Or, maybe not.

According to the researchers, their study is “the largest study of contagious yawning to date…, which included both university students and community members from across 50 nationalities, participants completed an online study in which they self-reported on their yawn contagion to a video stimulus and completed four measures of psychopathy…[.]”

The researchers found support for “previous findings in that participants that yawned contagiously tended to score lower on the combined and primary measures of psychopathy. That said, tiredness was the strongest predictor across all models.”

In other words, people who do not yawn after someone else does, had more psychopathic tendencies. However, being tired is the biggest predictor of whether or not someone will contagiously yawn.

In a nutshell, then, it seems like the best time to test this theory on your loved one is to pick a time you know they are not tired, then yawn a few times. Do they yawn back? If not, you may need to watch your back.

What happened when you tried to test this theory? Let us know in the comments.

Stacey Warner

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