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No One Will Ever Love You Until You Love Yourself

– After Anderson, Myowa-Yamakoshi and Matsuzawa’s Contagious

Yawning in Chimpanzees

Digital Video, 2011


In this video Takens-Milne once again scrutinises the simplistic mantras of daytime television but shifts her focus away from film to the popular mis-representation of nascent

scientific investigation.


Takens-Milne re-enacts a section of an experiment carried out by James R. Anderson, Masako Myowa-Yamakoshi and Tetsuro Matsuzawa in 2004, which investigated contagious yawning in Chimpanzees (1). The experiment measured levels of contagious yawning in socially-reared female chimpanzees by exposing them to “video scenes of chimpanzees repeatedly yawning or of chimpanzees showing open-mouth facial expressions that were not yawns” (2) (the videoed chimpanzees varied in their familiarity and gender). The experiment, which found that “…two out of the six chimpanzees showed significantly higher frequencies of yawning in response to yawn videos…” (3), followed similar

experiments on humans which found that 40-60% of humans exhibited contagious yawn reflexes(4). The scientists then postulated (and explored, with 65 students) (5) that

lack of contagious yawning was linked to Schizotypal Personality Disorders (6) and that levels of contagious yawning were linked to the empathetic capabilities of the

person/chimp.   In restaging the experiment and replacing the chimpanzees with herself, Takens-Milne appears to accept the hypothesis as truth and uses it to test another

shaky truth: That noone will ever love you until you love yourself. In doing so, Takens-Milne humourously anticipates the consequences of the dangerous and broad trend for nascent/emergent scientific hypothesise that support conventional beliefs or values, to be reported in the popular press as fact. As Alex Curtis aptly says (with regards to

the Odon Brothers’ invention of the Ecosystem, which was later discredited) –

“It stopped being a metaphor and came to be, what seemed to be, a scientific description of reality.” (7)  


1. J.R. Anderson, M. Myowa-Yamkoshi, T. Matsuzwa, Contagious yaw- ning in chimpanzees, R. Soc. Lond.: Biol. Lett. (2004) doi:10.1098/ rsbl.2004.0224. See  HYPERLINK "http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/271/Suppl_6/S468.short" http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/271/Suppl_6/S468.short

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid

4. Provine, R. R. 1986 Yawning as a stereotyped action patterns and releasing stimulus. Ethology 72, 448–455. Provine, R. R. 1989 Faces as releasers of contagious yawning: an approach to face detection using normal human subjects. Bull. Psychon. Soc. 27, 211–214.  

5. S.M. Platek, S.R. Critton, T.E. Myers, G.G. Gallup Jr., Contagious  yawning: the role of self-awareness and mental state attribution, Cogn.

Brain Res. 17 (2003) 223 – 227.See http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0926641003001095

6. As part of the preparation for the piece Takens-Milne completed a Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire and scored SQ-A 4.  She does not suffer from a schizotypal personality disorder.  

7. Adam Curtis, All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace, Episode 2 - The Use and Abuse of Vegetational Concepts, BBC2, 2011.