Tag Archives: Intergroup Processes

Monkey see, monkey yawn … other monkey yawn

 

By Erica Zaiser

Yawning has always been thought of as “contagious” among humans. When someone in a group yawns it always seems to set off a trend of yawning with people around. This has often been thought of as being social in the same way that you think things are more funny when other people laugh and you frown more when other people frown. In a new study reported on by the BBC, researchers have found that yawning as a contagion is not limited to the human species but is seen in chimpanzees as well. What is even more interesting is that chimps in their studies yawned more frequently after seeing chimps from their own group yawn as opposed to when they watched chimps from an outside group yawn. The researchers suggest that this might mean that yawning can be seen as a measure of empathy.

As far as I know there hasn’t been research which has shown if this yawning bias towards ingroup members is present for humans. Empathy in humans has been linked to pro-social behaviour and there is research suggesting that people tend to be more prosocial and feel more empathy towards people in their ingroup than in their outgroup. So if yawning is a measure of empathy, it would make sense that people, like chimps, would yawn more when they see members of their ingroup yawning than when they see outgroup members yawning.

Read more: Chimpanzees ‘catch’ contagious yawns from friends. BBC- Earth News.

Empathy-related responding: Associations with prosocial behavior, aggression, and intergroup relations. Social Issues and Policy Review. 2010.

Social Categorization and empathy for outgroup members. British Journal of Social Psychology. 2010.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

When Perspective Taking Counts

A BBC news correspondent wrote a piece about living in Paris. The theme focused on equality between service providers and their patrons–at times leaving the reader aghast.  For example the writer tells of taxi drivers ignoring her because of the inconvenience of carrying crutches because of a broken foot. And when the patron asked the taxi driver for accommodation the taxi sped away. Drawing a sharp contrast the correspondent notes that one would not find that type of service in London, or the U.S.

Yet before the reader gets a chance to make dispositional attributions about the service workers the writer introduces some perspective. The writer introduces the idea that service workers are asserting themselves and want to be treated as equals. Had the readers been left with their first impression, Gill and Andreychik (2009) note their minds would have been made up, perhaps making a mental note that the service workers in Paris are not service oriented. However, attributing the behavior to the workers wanting equality brings another perspective, which Gill and Andreychik (2009) would argue to be pro-social.  Perspective taking, the researchers argue, allows people to understand the reason for other people’s behaviors and reduces bias toward other groups.

Read more: “In Paris, the customer is not always right”

Gill, M.J. & Andreychik, M, R. (2009). Getting Emotional About Explanations: Social Explanations and Social Explanatory Styles as Bases of Prosocial Emotions and Intergroup Attitudes.