Behavior

Do You Yawn When Other People Yawn? Congratulations, You're Probably Not A Psychopath

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When you see someone yawn, you probably do too. But that's not the case for everyone. As it turns out, psychopaths are unaffected by contagious yawning.

Why It's Interesting

You've seen it: Maniacal laughter and a grotesque sense of humor. A short fuse resulting in a scary show of unexpected violence. Wry, conniving smiles with an eerie superficial charm. These are psychopaths. But don't forget the most horrifying psychopathic giveaway of all—someone who doesn't catch a yawn while you're yawning. Oh, the horror!

Think about it—do you remember any scenes in "American Psycho" that show Patrick Bateman yawning around other yawners? Clearly that would be a silly and minute thing to pick up on, and something that doesn't seem to mean anything at all. But according to a 2015 study by Baylor University department of Psychology and Neuroscience researchers, people with psychopathic tendencies had a significantly reduced chance of contagious yawning. Weird, right? Well, actually, not really. One trait of psychopathy is a lack of empathy, and it's thought that contagious yawning occurs between humans (and other species!) because of empathy. However, it's important to know that not everyone who is immune to contagious yawning is a psychopath. Young children have been shown to resist contagious yawns, as have people on the autism spectrum.

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Why People Should Know

Psychopaths are everywhere. Okay, maybe that's a reach. But identifying a psychopath can be tricky, and becoming the victim of a psychopath's manipulation is not very difficult. It's always safe to be on your toes when you're in the presence of someone you may be unsure about. Here are perhaps some better indicators of a psychopath than waiting for someone to yawn.

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