Want to see if someone is a psychopath or not? Try yawning at them. If they yawn back, you’re okay and proceed to befriending them if you wish. If they don’t, perhaps steer clear—they could be distinctly anti-social.
Scientists reveal that people with low empathy levels don’t copy the gestures of others.
Scientists have found that the more psychopathic characteristics people have, the less they are affected by ‘contagious yawning’
Researchers from Baylor University tested 135 students for anti-social traits
Those who scored highly on ‘cold-heartedness’ were less likely to yawn when shown video clips of facial expressions
Most people will yawn if someone around them yawns. Normal mammals are said to be unable to resist ‘contagious yawning.’
US President Barack Obama yawns during the East Asia
Summit plenary session in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in 2012
The researchers from Baylor University in Texas published their findings in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.
Brain scans of teens with a history of aggressive bullying behavior suggest that they may actually get pleasure out of seeing someone else in pain. While this may come as little surprise to those who have been victimized by bullies, it is not what the researchers expected.
The reason they were surprised is because the prevailing view is that these kids are cold and unemotional in their aggression.
“It is entirely possible their brains are lighting in the way they are because they experience seeing pain in others as exciting and fun and pleasurable,” said one researcher.
“We need to test that hypothesis more, but that is what it looks like,” he added.
Psychopaths are known for their callousness, diminished capacity for remorse, and lack of empathy. However, the exact cause of these personality traits is an area of scientific debate. The results of a new study show striking similarities between the mental impairments observed in psychopaths and those seen in patients with frontal lobe damage.
One previous explanation for psychopathic tendencies has been a reduced capacity to make inferences about the mental states of other people, an ability known as Theory of Mind (ToM). On the other hand, psychopaths are also known to be extremely good manipulators and deceivers, which would imply that they have good skills in inferring the knowledge, needs, intentions, and beliefs of other people. Therefore, it has been suggested recently that ToM is made up of different aspects: a cognitive part, which requires inferences about knowledge and beliefs, and another part which requires the understanding of emotions.