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- Do You Yawn When Other People Yawn? Congratulations, You're Probably Not A Psychopath
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- Why we yawn and what it means
The bulk of this research has made use of clever experimental manipulations involving research assistant actors.
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The actor crosses his legs and then waits to see if the participant crosses his legs, too. More naturalistic evidence for this phenomenon has been much harder to come by. That is, to what extent do we see this kind of nonverbal back and forth in the real world and to what extent does it reveal the same properties of minds that seem to hold true in the lab? More specifically, yawn contagion, or that annoyingly inevitable phenomenon that follows seeing, hearing and even reading about another yawn. Past work has demonstrated that, similar to behavioral mimicry, contagious yawners tend to be higher in dispositional empathy.
Not only that, but contagious yawning seems to emerge in children at the same time that they develop the cognitive capacities involved in empathizing with others. In short, the link between yawning and empathizing appears strong. Specifically, are we more likely to catch the yawns of people to whom we are emotionally closer?
Can we deduce something about the quality of the relationships between individuals based solely on their pattern of yawning? Yawning might tell us the degree to which we empathize with, and by extension care about, the people around us. To test this hypothesis the researchers observed the yawns of adults in their natural environments over the course of a year. When a subject yawned the researchers recorded the time of the yawn, the identity of the yawner, the identities of all the people who could see or hear the yawner strangers, acquaintances, friends, or kin , the frequency of yawns by these people within 3 minutes after the original yawn, and the time elapsed between these yawns and the original yawn.
Sure enough, yawn contagion was predicted by emotional closeness. Family members showed the greatest contagion, in terms of both occurrence of yawning and frequency of yawns, and strangers and acquaintances showed a longer delay in the yawn response compared to friends and kin. No other variable predicted yawn contagion. It seems that this reflexive, subtle cue exposes deep and meaningful information about our relationship to others.
Many studies have shown that we preferentially direct our nobler tendencies towards those with whom we empathize and away from those with whom we do not. Remember this the next time you let out a big one at lunch and your friend continues to calmly chew his sandwich. Connect all these dots and study further with depressed people, people who suffer isolation, suicide. And even use the Stroup color test in conjuction with the yawning as well as the yawning studies and you may have found something BIG.
What I see here is a simple yawning test that can help determine ones capacity to empathize. Maybe what all of this also means is something happens in the brain see ptsd or war trauma soldiers where their ability to empathize shuts down also. I wish someone had read this and responded. So far you are the only one but I've been really wanting them to think about what I said. If yawning is a type of miniseizure happening in brain it also is a great conductive study to those with manic bipolar and war trauma and ptsd and all of this seems further connected.
As many of the medications that work to treat are in fact anticonvulsant meds such as lamotrigine depicote respiradal etc. Most of those suffering social bonding issues can't empathize or relate to others. Soldiers with tbi and ptsd come home with inability to connect to others. If empathy is how we connect and relate to others this simple test while connected to mri or cat scan can help in conjuction with the Stroup findings. In short - I think contagion yawning CAN be an indicator to conditions such as autism, suicidal depression, manic bipolar, social retardedness, ptsd, etc and I think this needs to be studied WITH the Stroup test.
When studying the mind of a rampage killer school shootings etc they DID find that an entire communication network of the brain shut down. What if contagion yawning reinforced all of this. What if all of these conditions suffered could be answered by what's supposed to happen in the brains communication during contagion yawning? What if that's the answer to empathy, bonding and relationships?! Take all of those who did yawn most to least and compare their brains communication firings to those who didn't yawn. Compare what's supposed to happen in the brain to what's not happening in the brain with people who have suicidal depression, ptsd, autism, manic bipolar, schizophrenia especially.
Follow along with the Stroup findings. Thank you for wasting my time. The conclusion is more research needs to be done? I hope these clowns arnt getting paid for this. My wife and I just got into an argument after she reported doing a little study, yawning in front of our dog, Buttercup, three times, and getting a yawn from her in return each time.
Do You Yawn When Other People Yawn? Congratulations, You're Probably Not A Psychopath
That is fascinating. The article about the study mentions just humans and chimps having this trait. Primates, dogs, cats, and who knows how many other mammal species yawn. What about the physiological impetus for and benefit from a yawn? Maximizing oxygen intake is quite pleasurable.
Why is that not part of this discussion? Is there not some evolutionary benefit to an individual in a group who sees someone yawn and does the same? I think the oxygen issue seems viable. My thought was that yawning signals safety to a group - all basic functions are satisfied, trust is present, no need to be anxious or on high alert, and doing something vulnerable like yawning especially when audible merely communicates this safety.
I believe that the cause of contagious yawning is that our brains are so smart when we see somebody else yawn we know they're taking an extra oxygen and why would they need to take it an extra oxygen? So we tell ourselves there may be a lack of oxygen soon so we yawn to take an extra oxygen. Maybe yawning is a social mechanism that indicates safety and relaxation within a group dynamic -- it's a silent way to communicate that "everything is fine, we can relax" to the rest of the tribe.
I noticed that even with my [once stray] cat, I never saw it yawn until it trusted me. It's the same message as slowly closing one's eyes if we're on high alert, we don't do this.
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I'd go so far as to say it's the same group signaling that we get with song and dance -- when you hear these things, it's a sign that the coast is clear and we have nothing to worry about. All of these seem like obvious evolutionary answers. They only tested people that are in close proximity of each other who observed someone else yawn. How do you explain someone who yawns with their back to them and the other person yawns? It's something much deeper than natural observation.
Aren't autistic children suffering from dysfunctional mirror neurons? They're less likely to replicate any sort of social behavior. What an odd test. Is there a correlation between empathy and mirror neurons? Because that would mean this study only bolstered the previous hypothesis.
You went looking for an answer you already had :. It's obvious caused by the persons ability to have compassion. Some people even cry when they see other people cry, it's the exact same thing with yawning. I can't believe this is so hard for researchers to test and validate. Christopher Bergland is a world-class endurance athlete, coach, author, and political activist.
Why we yawn and what it means
Exercise-induced changes to synaptic function may increase brain connectivity. How do eclectic role models facilitate identity construction during adolescence? Consistent timing of daily exercise is typical among weight loss maintainers. Back Psychology Today. Back Find a Therapist. Back Get Help.
- 2 thoughts on “You’re more likely to catch a yawn from a relative than a stranger”.
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Back Magazine. Subscribe Issue Archive. Back Today. The Psychology of Creativity. Gender Segregation at Work. Christopher Bergland The Athlete's Way. Follow me on Twitter. Friend me on Faceook. Why Is Yawning So Contagious? Researchers have identified new factors that make yawning contagious. Reading the Word Yawn Can Make People Yawn Contagious yawning is a phenomenon that only occurs in humans and chimpanzees as a response to hearing, seeing, or even thinking about yawning.
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Group Safety Submitted by Brian on May 25, - am. Yawwwn Submitted by JohnGuest on May 8, - pm. I probably yawned twenty times while reading this article, I am surprised I got through it all. Yaaaawwwwnnn Submitted by Ktangs on September 25, - am. Me too, my eyes were watering the whole time because I couldn't stop! Why yawning is so contagious Submitted by Optimist on June 29, - pm. Reinforcement study not a counter study Submitted by Amy Simmans on December 15, - am. Yes Submitted by Jen on July 17, - pm.