The Relationship Between Empathy, Contagious Yawning and Vicarious Embarrassment
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Past research studies have found that empathy seems to be related to both contagious yawning and vicarious embarrassment, through empathy measurement scales being used, along with overlap of brain regions found in fMRI studies. While empathy has been related to both yawning and vicarious embarrassment in a number of studies, the three have yet to be investigated together. This study will aim to investigate whether (a) more empathetic individuals are more susceptible to contagious yawning; (b) empathetic individuals are more susceptible to vicarious embarrassment; and (c) susceptibility to contagious yawning will predict susceptibility to vicarious embarrassment. Half of the participants watched a video of people yawning, observed by the researcher from the other side of the room to count their yawns, then filled out vicarious embarrassment and empathy tests. The second half watched the video from home, self-reporting their yawn numbers along with the scales. The results were analysed with correlations and a multiple regression, finding that vicarious embarrassment significantly predicted yawning numbers, while the other hypotheses were not supported.