Study: Psychopaths Don't Catch Yawns


(Photo: vmiramontes)

Yawns are contagious. Or at least they're supposed to be.

So here's a quick test: yawn. If the person next to you--whether a stranger of someone you've known and loved all of your life--doesn't yawn, then he might be a psychopath.

That's how I'm misinterpreting a new study by researchers at Baylor University. They found a positive correlation between people who don't yawn when other people do and scores on questionnaires for psychopathic characteristics. Shaunacy Ferro writes for Mental Floss:

The higher the participants rated on measures of cold-heartedness, the less likely they were to catch another person’s yawn. Granted, people are less likely to feel empathy with a stranger they’re watching in a video than with someone they know, and the sample size was pretty small, so Baylor University probably isn’t full of a bunch of raging psychopaths. And not yawning when others do it doesn’t mean you should run off for a psych evaluation. "But what we found tells us there is a neurological connection—some overlap—between psychopathy and contagious yawning,” study author Brian Rundle says.

-via Joe Carter


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Luther, from the BBC show, used this same idea to figure out who the murderer was in one episode. Glad to see the writers were pretty accurate.
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Haven't read the article, but I wonder if it correlates with 'mirror neurons', which are also deficient in autistic persons.
So, you can check for the ability to 'catch' yawns, and direct those people to business and finance, I suppose.
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