I just spent the last six business days listening to some experts presenting at the Professional Update that I organized for this year. It is specifically designed to keep the professionals that I work with up to date with the advancements in Veterinary Medicine.
One of the concepts that comes up repeatedly is the issue of sensitivity and specificity. Very scientific sounding, but in simple terms, they let you know the chance that your “test” will give you accurate results. If a test is very sensitive it will find every case of disease. If it is specific, it will never tell you there is disease when there is not.
Let me give you an example. Let’s say, hypothetically, that without empathy you have no yawn contagion. Yawn contagion is the simple truth that when someone yawns, we all start yawning. Yes, you, I’m directing this comment at those that can feel a yawn coming on when they hear someone else yawn. Or are you above that? Are you fed up with this dry, uninteresting, blog? If so, I suggest you stop reading.
For those of you that stayed, lack of empathy is the defining factor that differentiates harmful narcissists from those that are just self-centered, egotistical or arrogant. Without empathy people are incapable of understanding when they are hurting you and therefore, have no way to stop. The in-between bits of the relationship are often OK but the dramatic shifts are not worth it. I hope you understand this, if not already, sometime in the future.
The “test” is to yawn in front of someone and see if they yawn as well.
If they did not yawn, that would be a positive test for a lack of empathy. This explanation is over simplified a bit, because no one yawns everytime someone else yawns. The yawning would have to be done a couple of times to see if the lack of response was consistent.
Yawn in front of your partner and see if they find you contagious. If the test is 100% sensitive a person who had no empathy would never yawn in response. If the test is 100% specific everyone that had empathy would yawn. No diagnostic test is ever this reliable. A sensitivity of 95% and a specificity of 80% is usually considered an accurate test.
Another way to view a small amount of data is to present it as anecdotal. Anecdotal means that there have been reports, but there is no way to tell if they are representative of the larger population. There has not been a study comprehensive enough to determine if the reports are unique or if they are a small glimpse of a larger truth.
For this particular yawn contagion test, we’ve already had some replies. Yes, at this point, the reports are anecdotal, so we need more people to try this at home. So far, the evidence suggests that there might be a connection between being a narcissist and failing to show yawn contagion.
Two things are becoming apparent. The first is that a high number get angry, almost half of the suspected narcissists have some rule about yawning, say that it is rude or get angry. On the pure yawn contagion aspect we are better than 75% have tested positive. Positive means that they have the diagnosis, and in this example it means they failed to yawn. This is consistent with a lack of empathy.
Now, I’m not about to present these results to scientific professionals, but I think we are observing a trend at this point. What we need is more data, so I’m asking you to try this test and let me know.
I appreciate your help with this.