Contagious Yawns

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Everyone knows that yawning has something to do with being tired. Although we don't fully understand it, we can relate the two subjects together. If this is true, then why is yawning contagious? Just because someone else is tired, doesn't mean that you are but if they yawn you will most likely yawn also. Sometimes just thinking about yawning makes me yawn. Just looking at the picture below of the baby yawning, makes me yawn! Although there is no full scientific explanation for this, there are many theories. 


Yawning Really Is Contagious

It's true! One study found that when shown videos of yawning, around 50 percent of people also began yawning. It even happens among animals! A 2004 study observed the catching nature of yawns between chimpanzees and baboons and macaques. Perhaps most impressive, though, are dogs, who might start to yawn after just hearing their owners let one slip. Even merely thinking -- or reading! -- about yawning can trigger one (did we get you yet?).

Turns out, it's not really that strange of a reaction, Robert Provine, a psychology and neuroscience professor at the Unversity of Maryland, Baltimore County, told WebMD. Other very human reactions are equally "contagious" -- think about the last time you witnessed someone laughing! A number of studies have tied this catching nature of yawns to empathy, says Decker. "The yawning becomes more of a social phenomenon than a physiological phenomenon," he says, and helps explain why we yawn when we're not tired.

Many times I find that someone's laugh is also contagious. Simply hearing the sound of laughter can make me laugh because it's funny. I am sure this has happened to some of you before. So, scientists are hypothesizing that yawning being contagious has somewhat of the same reasoning of laughing being contagious. Another study shows that yawning is even more contagious between close friends.The closer you are to someone the easier it is to "catch" their yawn. I didn't think that yawning showed an emotion that I could actually "empathize" with but maybe the thought of someone else being tired makes me realize how tired I actually am. Maybe it even just causes one to remember a time when they were tired and inflect the same feeling. Either way we have decided that yawning is in fact contagious. Next time I am bored in class I'm going to make myself yawn and watch it spread around the room.

1 Comment

It really is contagious! I always catch myself yawning immediately after a friend I'm with and it gets weird. Sometimes, I'm not even particularly tired. Luckily, there is actually some science behind it, and it isn't just me being creepy. I read up on this phenomenon and found something quite interesting. Did you know dogs could be prone to this "contagious yawn" if with familiar faces? Crazy thought, but true! The article below maps out an experiment done with dogs to test the effectiveness of a familiar owner's yawn on their pup. Check it out!

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