August 03, 2003
Greater Empathy Correlates With Contagious Yawning

Steven Platek and colleagues have found that those most likely to yawn in response to others yawning have more empathy.

Platek said the yawners who mimicked were the same kind who said "ouch" when seeing someone else in pain. They tended to be more empathetic to their fellow man.

Contagious yawning may have been selected for in order to synchronize group activity cycles.

This makes evolutionary sense, agrees Ronald Baenninger, who has studied yawning at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Contagious yawning may have helped our ancestors to coordinate times of activity and rest. "It's important that all group members be ready to do the same thing at the same time," Baenninger says.

If you want to test someone's degree of empathy then fake a yawn and see if the person yawns in response.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2003 August 03 11:51 PM  Biological Mind

Zack Lynch said at August 5, 2003 7:18 AM:


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