By | August 4, 2015 22 Comments

When everybody yawns, psychopaths don’t

So you’re out with friends, or worse, at a business meeting, when you see someone yawn. Soon, you’re yawning too.

Why does this happen? Researchers believe that yawning is contagious because it is linked to empathy, and most humans have lots of empathy.

This behavior is deeply rooted in our evolutionary history. Many mammals yawn. And yawning by one member of a group often begets yawning by another member of the group. This happens among people and also among dogs and chimpanzees.

But it doesn’t happen among psychopaths.

Research on yawning

Brian K. Rundle and colleagues at Baylor University in Texas recently published a paper entitled, Contagious yawning and psychopathy. The bottom line: People who were high in psychopathic traits were less likely to yawn in response to yawns by others.

A total of 135 students participated in the research. They completed the Psychopathic Personality Inventory (PPI), which produces scores for fearless dominance, self-centered impulsivity, and coldheartedness.

The students were asked to sit in a comfortable chair in front of a computer. Researchers attached electrodes to their faces to measure physiological responses, and the students wore noise-cancelling headphones.

Then they watched a video that included people yawning. The researchers observed who yawned in response, and how often.

Study results

The researchers expected to find a connection between psychopathic traits and a decreased susceptibility to contagiously yawn. They did.

According to the study results, students who scored high on the coldheartedness factor of the PPI yawned less frequently than the other students.

“Our results, then, fit well into the evolutionary model that contagious yawning in our species is a function of empathy, as we have shown that those who are characteristically lacking in empathy are less susceptible to a contagious yawn when prompted in a paradigm known to induced contagious yawning in normal individuals,” Rundle and colleagues wrote.

What do you think? Did you ever notice that the sociopath you know didn’t yawn when others did?

Contagious yawning and psychopathy







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still reeling

I never saw the path in my life yawn. Before I realized what he was, I used to think it was so bizarre that he never looked tired or stressed. Always fresh as a daisy even tho he admitted to significant personal and professional problems. He said he was taught to “compartmentalize” and that is how he was able to appear upbeat and carefree. I figured he had a responsible job and couldn’t run around wearing his stress and emotions on his sleeve. Of course, I made excuses for his insane, erratic behavior on a consistent basis. The only time I saw him distressed was when his shenanigans earned him his just rewards, his job and marriage. He acted like the emotional 3 yr old that he was, as if he had no part in causing this to happen. I recall thinking how strange it was that he took no personal responsibility for his actions or consequences thereof. He was so cryptic, I really didn’t know exactly what he had done. It seemed obvious, since he was flirting with me that there were women involved.

The yawning theory makes good sense. There were many things this monster did or didn’t do that screamed of pathic traits.


Very interesting study. My ex h could go none stop with very little sleep & when did hit the pillow he would fall asleep instantly. Thinking back I don’t think I ever saw him yawn…very interesting because my little cat & I would yawn but not him.


The other thing that never happened according to my ex was the fact he never had a headache ever or he was never hungover after daily drinking. Once I escaped these two things really have made me think that his brain is very different then normal people.


Hi Jan7, very interesting! My ex told me he never experienced a hangover… Ever! He was in the Navy when he was younger so I know he drank….probably excessively.

Hope all is well with you!


Hi Amille, all is well thank you for asking. I see your post on here from time to time but I don’t want to intrude on your conversation you are having with others so I end up not checking up on you. I hope all is well with you.

I think this article is a big indication as to how their brain really functions or better how dysfunctional they are….things that I have notices other victims stating is that their ex’s were able to fall asleep instantly even if they were fighting with their mate. My ex could fight with me and then hit the pillow to instantly fall asleep while I stayed up all night upset that we fought.


Jan, you are welcome to “intrude” any time! You are always a huge help.

Yes, mine too seemed able to fall asleep on a dime during our trips together. Though he claimed to have sleep issues. As I didn’t live with him, I can’t confirm that.

I had a little set back this week. A mutual acquaintance approached me and proceeded to tell me that it is a shame I’m being so hurtful to my ex! That he didn’t cheat on me. That I need to sit down and talk it through.

I was in so much shock I didn’t have the wherewithal to tell him to, well you know. I just replied that he didn’t have all the facts.

Since then, I feel like the wound has reopened. More memories coming to light. More, “oh, now it makes sense that he did XYZ.”

Thanks to all the reading, posting, everyone’s help on this site, it has not caused any doubts or lead me to break NC.

If anything, it has filled me with anger. I feel angry about everything and everyone (my children the exception).

Maybe it is part of the healing process? Maybe the acquaintance did me a favor. I don’t know.

Sorry to vent and be so off topic.

I just saw your comment about hangovers…now sleep, and it triggered another memory.

Hope you have a great day.


Hi Amille, welcome to the sociopath smear campaign (google) club…your ex is smearing you to others to make you the “bad guy” and he the “saint” and he clearly is using “pity play” (google) to get others to feel sorry for him. These evil sociopaths are masterful at getting others to not only feel sorry for them but to go and attempt to suck their vicim back in.


If this guy attempts again to tell you that you should talk with your ex tell him the truth about him even if he does not believe you, you have planted seeds in his mind to watch his so called friends behavior and maybe he too will see your ex’s mask slip. Just think of what a cult does…if a member leaves the cult followers go to the home of the ex cult member and tries to suck them back in. This is what sociopaths do does not matter if they have 1 cult member or 1000 cult members they don’t want to let go of a cult member ever. This man is still married and he is trying to lure you back in to his sick twist world.

My ex did the same…when I finally had proof & his confession to a two year aware with his co worker I was done with the marriage for good. He too got a married couple involved to convince me that I should stay married. To this day I am still in shocked that they gave me suck HORRIBLE advise because I stayed another 7 years and it was the worse HELL on earth because my ex knew that at any time I could leave so he did everything in his power to destroy every aspect of my life. By the time I literally crawled away from the marriage I was broken down to nothing. When they they came to me at my ex request I was mentally, emotionally and physically broken down so it was so easy for them to just suck me back into their game…I look back and it saddens me so much because I was so close to escaping my ex then.

PLEASE do not even spend time thinking about what the sociopaths friend said to you to guilt trip you into talking with your ex. FOLLOW YOUR GUT…AND YOUR GUT IS TELLING YOU THAT YOUR EX IS A SOCIOPATH…sociopaths NEVER change EVER!!

My ex told me he would never cheat on me again after I stayed guess what he never ended his affair with the women and when I escaped he had 3 more mistresses in 2 different states.

For you, you don’t know if your ex has other women on the hook besides his wife.

Reading, watching Donna’s videos at the to especially when you feel like you want to break NC will remind you why you imposed the NC rule in the first place.

If you are wondering what your ex has to say to you just remember this…HE WILL TELL YOU ALL LIES thats it! Lie after Lie after Lie. Remember Sociopaths are pathological liars and when you call them out on one lie they tell you another lie.

It’s good to vent keep venting!!! (I did the same when I first left sometimes I even ranted about my ex 🙂 Clears the mind for sure 🙂

Have a great day!!!


Jan7, LOL at my new membership. I figured he was out telling everyone that he was a victim. If his ex wife and previous girlfriends were controlling and awful, why would I be any different?

Besides, he was playing victim in all the hoover emails and texts he sent before I deleted accounts/changed my phone number.

I will say it did sting to hear his minion tell me that I was wrong about the situation. That he isn’t married/living with someone else. I know that is a lie. And even if it isn’t true, there were too many other things that are true (triangulation, other lies, the fact that when I confronted him about the obit be didn’t respond/left me hanging without a word for 2 days!).

Therefore, I have no desire to contact him. What would be the point? So I could hear more lies? He could treat me like crap again?

That is awful about that couple. Were they close friends? Do you think they knew what they were doing? Or were they manipulated by your ex? Either way, I wonder what motivates or makes people think they should weigh in on such personal matters? This guy who approached me is virtually a stranger to me. Other than a “hello, how are you?” I don’t speak with him. I hope I never see him again.

I’m sure there are other women. He told me once (another memory surfacing) that his brother and wife belonged to a swingers club. He thought that was just awful of course. I now realize (after reading about how they project their bad behavior on to others) it is my ex that belongs to that club. Part of my anger lately is knowing he didnt give any thought to risking my heath.

Again, no worries about me contacting him Jan7. You and everyone on this site;everybody BRAVE enough to share their stories, has taught me what will happen if I do.


Amille, you have a good sense of humor 🙂 you also get a free membership into the NC Club…who knew there were so many clubs when you break up with someone.

Or your ex wanted you to join him in the “swingers club” seen. You just never know with them….they are all sex addicts…this is a big RED flag when you meet a guy who talks about sex all the time or is addicted to porn = most likely a sociopath.

Me too, I am pissed (sorry for the strong language) that my ex h cheated on me so many times and put my safety & life in such harms way. SO SO EVIL they are …all for their self gratification. My ex was porn addicted & I am pretty sure meet most of his victims on line. So twisted when I think back to that time. These are the reminders as to leaving him was the best thing I ever did.

So many women lives are destroyed by these evil type people simply because they are not educated…so sad. It’s good to know the truth about this evil world we live in to stay safe now.


An interesting aside to this discussion is this. The spath in my life yawns obnoxiously even disruptively, sometimes all the way through 12 step meetings. I’ve also seen him do it during a meditation in a group setting. He also does it when we are on the phone. When questioned, he replies “I am discharging”. Don’t know how this ties in but it is very attention getting. The implication from him is that it is spiritually cleansing. It is very odd.


i found it frustrating that mine would yawn when he was bored with listening to me or others ….i could tell he would lose interest if he was not the one talking….not sure what that is….but it was a tactic to say …this conversation is over because i am not interested anymore… was so obvious because other times he could spend hours talking and listening or awake especially if he was attempting to have something physical happen…..control………arrggg


wakingup and grace
I am relieved to see your posts, almost the opposite of this article. I thought it strange, MANY times, that my ex would Yawn at inappropriate times. In my years with him, there would be traumas, such as the loss of a child, and I’d be crying and sobbing and saying how alone I felt, and his behavior was that he couldn’t stop yawning. It felt like an assault towards me, that these moments in our relationship, where a spouse would expect support and shared sorrow, yet he’d say nothing and seem to struggle with being present in the moment.

Thank you for sharing, that others experienced this strange behavior.


I think it is quite typical of the sociopath to not yawn when appropriate, yet yawn like crazy when they should be serious and have empathy for another. Isn’t this so typical of a sociopath to upset you every time?

We try to stay on topic when discussing this type of person, and are floored by how abnormal they are. WE say, that is different from the topic of the discussion, but aren’t sociopaths always off-topic ? They wouldn’t be able to trip us up if they stayed on topic.


Let me tell you about ‘my’ psychopath from high school. She had to cover her mouth while we watched a film depicting horrific car accidents as part of our Driver Education training. Why?

She said the film made her ‘smile’.

She was that sadistic.


The sociopath I knew also did not yawn, spontaneously or otherwise. He also could fall asleep sitting up, and rarely (if ever) dreamed.


The sociopath playing the role of my kind, generous, and loving wife did have some unique sleep related stuff. She would go go go. She had the classic Enui oppressive boredom so had to stay occupied- usually grooming minions, using triangulation, mirroring, making sexual advances toward male family members of mine, and slandering me of course. Oops I almost forgot her ministry. Most of the other activities were incorporated into that. You know, the usual stuff. She HAD TO have a 20 minute nap in the afternoon. She was exhausted and could then sleep almost anywhere. She would awake like clockwork 20 min later and be fully energized, full of joy to manufacture and distribute wickedness. If I can remember, I think she did yawn right before nap time. She was almost unfunctional if she didnt get her nap. She was also very aware of everything going on around her while sleeping. At nite when she was ready to go to bed she fell asleep almost instantly. Same at nap time. Like a robot charging batteries. Spaths.


The sleep characteristics that you all list are spooky. I was always so jealous that my ex could drop off to sleep like a rock and sleep anywhere, no matter what had happened just moments before, like a horrible argument. He said he could sleep because it wasn’t his fault and so had no feelings about it, that I was the one making a big deal out of nothing.

Additionally, One time, after discovering a new betrayal and trauma, I was sobbing and crying so hard, I wanted the world to fall in on me. My husband’s response was to laugh, and laugh so hard that he couldn’t stand. He slowly sunk to the floor laughing and laughing. I ran from the room and closed myself into the bathroom. I wish I knew then about sociopaths; that was my classic proof although at the time I didn’t know what it meant. He said it was because the look on my face struck him so funny that he couldn’t help himself, that he didn’t want to laugh, it just happened.


I stumbled on a term that explains why I became kinda emotionally and mentally frozen after leaving my husband. I was Terrified of what “could be”, and that there was nothing I could do about it. I became agoraphobic of a type. I only shopped late at night when it was the emptiest time of night, that is NO people. Even now, I still struggle with remnants of this. When faced with an obstacle, I now thing, why bother, what difference does it make. No one will hire me or want to buy from me. So I avoid and make do with less and less, hoping to survive until the day when I know it’s time for me to end it because I will have run out of resources.

That’s why I do strive to overcome, and it is one day at a time.


oops. Forgot to list the name of the term:
Learned Helplessness. Where my mother taught me that no matter how hard I’d try or how good a job I did, I was always the loser. It’s the same quality of life I found when married to my husband, that NOTHING I did was ever enough to keep me from being the loser, the one whom it was okay to do anything to, and he liked to encourage others to abuse me, tell me off, shun me. It was entertainment to him to watch that being done to me.


Yeah, learned helplessness. I too had parents who didn’t seem to like me. The parents allowed me to be bullied by my 6 siblings. I am the youngest.

I got to the point where I know I don’t need a man. But, wish my personality didn’t offend girlfriends, cause I would like to have more of those. I come off as so damaged that I scare people away.

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