Contagious yawning and empathy

Jaroslav Gottfried, Lenka Lacinová, Jan Širůček

Abstract

Objectives: The aim of this paper was to empirically verify the existence of relation between empathy and contagious yawning (i. e. yawning elicited by watching or thinking about yawning). Sample and settings: The research sample consists of 59 undergraduates. Contagious yawning, secretly recorded by the researcher, was elicited by watching a video stimulus. Empathy was then measured by Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test (RME) and Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI). Hypotheses: On the basis of previous research, empathy is identified as a characteristic that can potentially affect contagious yawning. Statistical analysis: Output data were statistically analysed using multilinear regression model. Results: Empathy did not prove to significantly predict the frequency of contagious yawning. Authors present further personal dispositions that can be connected to contagious yawning. However, the social function of yawning is questioned. Study limitation: Lower number of participants and positively skewed data distribution can limit the interpretation of results presented.

(Fulltext in Czech)

Keywords

empathy, imitation, contagious yawning

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