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Yawning Is Contagious, Even When Watching Cartoons

According to a BBC News article by Victoria Gill, researchers at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia have discovered that chimpanzees will yawn after watching animated chimpanzees yawn. They hope to use this information to learn how human children process what they see on a screen, as well as how they empathize with the feelings of other people:

Although Dr Campbell doesn't think the chimps were "fooled" by the animations into thinking they were looking at real chimps, he explained that there was evidence that chimpanzees "process animated faces the same way they process photographs of faces".

He said: "It's not a real chimpanzee, but it kind of looks like a chimpanzee, and they're responding to that."....

In his future work, Dr Campbell would like to pin down exactly how these measurable behaviours are related to the more difficult to measure phenomenon of empathy.

"We'd like to know more about behaviours related to empathy, like consolation - when an individual does something nice to the victim of aggression," he told BBC News.

"So we want to see if our good contagious yawners are also good consolers."


Link via Discover Magazine

Image: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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