Yawning and Psychopaths

What do you think of when you think about yawning? Normally when you think the reason why this person is yawning is because they are tired. However being thinking about yawning an being next to a person when they yawn are completely different things. Contagious yawning is when we see yawn and we immediately yawn as well. I think that most can agree that contagious yawning is the most annoying traits that humans have because it makes us look and appear tired when we are not, and it is considered rude.


A study was conducted by Brian Rundle, who used one hundred and thirty five people to see if seeing the people yawn, would make them yawn as well. They were able to conclude that not only if you were rated high on the test that you were less likely to yawn when watching other yawn, but also that just because you do not yawn means that you are a psychopath. From the article Rundle also says that because there has only been one study on this that it is hard to say that someone who yawns and does not yawn is actually crazy. I agree with him because you can never know if someone is crazy until they allow you to see that side of themselves.


However through a new study, scientists have determined where contagious yawning comes from. From the article Brian Rundle, said that the reason why we yawn is related to how much empathy we feel at that moment. But in this article, it does not go into detail about yawning and how it is connected to other human traits, but from this article we learn that yawning is something that is almost a privilege. It was determined from a recent that psychopath’s do not react to contagious yawning. The reason being is that they do not feel empathy. This makes sense because when we think of psychopath’s we do not think of them as being very emotional.


However it does not have to be just psychopath’s, anyone who is cold-hearted or lacks compassion are less likely to yawn after watching someone else yawn. Not to say that everyone who does not yawn is a psychopath or cold-hearted, but this article talks about how people with psychopathic emotional traits or people with autism are more likely to not yawn. Most of the time it is because they do not understand that is going on so when they act how they feel, they think they are doing the right thing when in reality they are not. Even babies do not learn how to yawn until they are around four or five years old because that is when they gain empathy. It is hard to say for sure that because you do not yawn at most of the things that other people do, that you are a psychopath. In reality that person could be completely normal, it is just that they are not as empathetic as others.

There could also be a third variable that are in play when it comes to people who do not yawn or to psychopath’s. For yawning they could not just not be focusing on the person yawning or they are good at not yawning in public. When it comes to psychopath’s, anything could cause the person to not feel empathy. An example could be a traumatic childhood experience. It is good to keep in mind that not everything is what it appears to be and sometimes judging people by yawning is not the best way to decide if they are crazy or not.


The Snoopy picture is found here.

The “Can you yawn for me?” picture is found here.

The dinosaur picture is found here.


1 thought on “Yawning and Psychopaths

  1. Pedro de Mello

    While it isn’t really known exactly how yawning is contagious, some recent studies show that it is possibly unrelated to empathy as previously thought. It’s known that 1. the rate of contagion varies from person to person, 2. the most likely factor for contagious yawning is age, and 3. animals such as chimpanzees and dogs are known to experience the contagious effect as well, even when seeing a human yawn instead of one of their own. One thing scientists agree on is that yawning is still a mysterious phenomenon and that it requires more experimental and observational data on it to even begin to explain its causes and effects on others.


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