Abstract # 2554 Event # 105:

Scheduled for Sunday, September 20, 2009 10:30 AM-10:40 AM: Session 9 (Del Mar Room) Oral Presentation


COMPARING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF VIDEOTAPE AND COMPUTER-ANIMATION FOR STIMULATING CONTAGIOUS YAWNING BY CHIMPANZEES (PAN TROGLODYTES)

M. W. Campbell1,2,3, J. D. Carter1,2,3 and F. B. M. de Waal1,2,3
1Living Links Center, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, Lawrenceville, GA 30043, USA, 2Yerkes National Primate Research Center, 3Emory University
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We recently reported that three-dimensional computer animations stimulated contagious yawning by chimpanzees. Chimpanzees yawned significantly more when viewing yawn animations than control animations. Next we wanted to show video of actual chimpanzee yawns for comparison. We recorded spontaneously occurring yawns in two groups of chimpanzees at the Yerkes NPRC. We selected 7 yawns from each group, with each yawn from a different individual. Each clip lasted 9 s followed by 1 s of blank screen. Controls clips comprised 9 s of the same individuals at rest, showing no arousing expressions. From these clips we assembled yawn and control videos for each group, with each video consisting of clips repeated in pseudorandom order for 15 min. We played the videos on a 9 cm screen placed inside a container with a small eyehole at one end. Thus, we presented the video to a subject without removing the subject from its social group (ensuring a relaxed state) but without other individuals being able to see the screen. Analyzed by individual, several chimpanzees yawned significantly more when viewing the yawn video than the control [Binomials, p<0.05], demonstrating contagious yawning. The results of both studies show a range of responses with individuals highly, moderately, and minimally susceptible to contagious yawning. This range may reflect variability in empathy functioning, on which contagious yawning is hypothetically based.