Professor Andrew Gallup and Recent Grad Sabina Wozny ’23 Publish Study
Study shows No Strong Connection Between Contagious Yawning Among Different Species and Empathy or Emotional Contagion
Associate Professor of Psychology Dr. Andrew Gallup, with 2023 graduate from the psychology program Sabina Wozny, found that while contagious yawning (CY) can take place across species, there is not a “strong connection between interspecific CY and empathy or emotional contagion.”
Animals 2023 published, “The Role of Empathic Concern and Gender on Interspecific Contagious Yawning in Humans.”
This study found that “While the evidence for interspecific CY is robust, links to empathy have been inconsistent.” The work focused on how “interspecific CY in response to images of yawns from common household pets relates to individual differences in empathic concern. The results provide further evidence for interspecific CY in humans, but self-reported empathic concern was a negative predictor of this response.” The study also reports that there was no difference based on sex in interspecific CY, “though when comparing the sexes across the CY conditions, women reported a higher frequency of yawning in response to dog yawns, and men reported a higher frequency of yawning in response to cat yawns.”
Notably, Wozny is the first student to complete a minor in the newly created Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences program at SUNY Poly.