Do psychopaths yawn when they see another yawn?

"Psychopathy is characterized by a general antisocial lifestyle with behaviors including being selfish, manipulative, impulsive, fearless, callous, possibly domineering, and particularly lacking in empathy. Contagious yawning in our species has been strongly linked to empathy.

"We exposed 135 students, male and female, who completed the Psychopathic Personality Inventory-Revised (PPI-R), to a yawning paradigm intended to induce a reactionary yawn. Further, we exposed males to an emotion-related startle paradigm meant to assess peripheral amygdalar reactivity.

"We found that scores on the PPI-R subscale Coldheartedness significantly predicted a reduced chance of yawning. Further, we found that emotion-related startle amplitudes were predictive of frequency of contagious yawning. These data suggest that psychopathic traits may be related to the empathic nature of contagious yawning in our species."



We exposed males and females assessed on a measure of psychopathic traits (PPI-R) to a contagious yawning paradigm.

We used an emotion-related startle paradigm to assess electromyographic startle amplitudes in males.

Scores on the affective component of the PPI-R are negatively related to contagious yawning for males and females.

Other components of the PPI-R were not related to contagious yawning.

Startle amplitudes are predictive of contagious yawning frequency in males.

Did you yawn?


Yawning in the animal world


Evidence of contagious yawning in chimps, dogs and now wolves suggests that the behavior is linked to a mammalian sense of empathy
"Among humans, even thinking about yawning can trigger the reflex, leading some to suspect that catching a yawn is linked to our ability to empathize with other humans.

"For instance, contagious yawning activates the same parts of the brain that govern empathy and social know-how. And some studies have shown that humans with more fine-tuned social skills are more likely to catch a yawn."

by Bob via The Project Avalon Community Forum More at