A new study claims that people with psychopathic traits are less likely to catch an ‘infectious yawn’ than empathetic folks.
Baylor University researchers said that yawning after spotting someone else’s yawn was associated with empathy and bonding, and ‘catching’ yawns happened with many social mammals, among them humans, chimpanzees and dogs.
The study involved 135 college students which took a standard psychological test with questions aimed at determining their degree of cold-heartedness, fearless dominance and self-centered impulsivity.
Later, they were shown 10-second video clips of different facial movements like a yawn, a laugh or a neutral face, with 10 seconds of blank screen separating 20 video snippets of those expressions.
The results showed that the less empathy a person had, the less likely he or she was to ‘catch’ a yawn.
Lead researcher Brian Rundle said that a lot of people did not yawn, and they knew that they were not very likely to yawn in response to a stranger they do not have empathetic connections with.
Rundle said that they found a neurological connection between psychopathy and contagious yawning.
The study is published in the Journal Personality and Individual Differences.