Psychopathic tendencies linked to reduced susceptibility to contagious yawning

(ORDO NEWS) — People with psychopathic personality traits like shamelessness are less likely to yawn after seeing another person yawn, according to a new study published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Contagious yawning is well known in humans, and previous studies have provided evidence that there is a positive relationship between empathy and susceptibility to contagious yawning.

Psychopathy is characterized by callous and overbearing behavior, as well as a lack of empathy, which can cause people with psychopathic traits to be less susceptible to contagious yawning.

“In recent years, there has been growing interest in understanding the factors that contribute to differences in yawn contagiousness.

However, previous psychological studies that have examined individual differences in yawn contagiousness have produced mixed results,” said study author Andrew K. Gallup, assistant professor of psychology at State University Polytechnic Institute. New York.

“Furthermore, many of these studies were conducted with relatively small and homogeneous samples. With the largest and most diverse sample size for contagious yawning to date, the current study aims to replicate and expand on previous studies suggesting a negative association between contagious yawning and psychopathic personality traits.”

In a new study, 458 participants from 50 different countries watched a 3-minute video that showed 49 human yawns and 1 dog yawn. They were then asked to indicate if they yawned while watching the video. After that, the participants completed several questionnaires to identify psychopathic traits.

Approximately 63% of participants reported that they yawned contagiously in response to the video. The researchers found that people who reported yawning tended to score lower on psychopathy tests compared to those who didn’t.

“People with higher scores on psychopathic personality traits tend to be less prone to contagious yawning,” Gallup told PsyPost.

“These results confirm previous studies suggesting that psychopathy is associated with a general disruption of behavioral contagion and biosafety synchrony. In addition, our results indicate that, like spontaneous yawning, yawning contagion is enhanced by participant fatigue/fatigue.”

The findings persisted even after the researchers controlled for gender, age, previous sleep on the previous night, self-reported fatigue, and objective and subjective levels of attention to the video.

But the study, like any other, comes with some caveats. “This study was conducted online, and the biggest limitations were the reliance on self-report data and the inability to track participants’ attention to the stimulus of a contagious yawn,” Gallup said.

The new results, however, are consistent with those of a previous study that used facial electromyography and galvanic skin response as objective measures of contagious yawning.

However, the researchers noted that the strongest predictor of contagious yawning was self-reported fatigue. “Thus, we should not immediately label someone as a psychopath unless he or she yawns in response to someone else yawning,” study co-author Jörg J. M. Massen said in a press release. “Maybe he or she is just not tired enough.”


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