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Why is yawning contagious?

By October 3, 2014 - 12:52pm
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It seems like whenever I see someone yawn, I start yawning. Why is yawning contagious?

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Hi Erin!

It must be Friday! lol

Thank you for sharing this question with the EmpowHER community! I have always wondered the same thing!


Contagious yawning is a phenomenon that only occurs in humans and chimpanzees as a response to hearing, seeing, or even thinking about yawning.  Studies suggest that yawning when someone else yawns is a sign of empathy and a form of social bonding. Kids don't develop this deeply rooted behavior until around age four, the study found. Kids with autism are half as likely to catch yawns. In the most severe cases, they never do.

Some professionals in the Psychology world still describe it as an unexplained mystery. In respect to science, since we still don't really know why we do it, I'm going to agree that it is a sign of empathy. Whatever the reason, it still is a very interesting phenomenon!

What do you think?


October 3, 2014 - 1:06pm
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