Why is Yawning Contagious?

Why is Yawning Contagious?

I’m sure you’ve been in a very same situation where someone in front of you suddenly yawned and you just did exactly the same. In fact, there are people who even yawn by just hearing from the back side or reading an article about how contagious it is, just like this.

Now, let’s start counting from now how many yawns you’re able to do after reading the whole article.

via: espressoscience.files.wordpress.com

Yawning is traced back to when we’re babies. Studies said that it starts when we were still in the womb during the second trimester. There was no proof of reason identified why this is so.

Causes of  Yawning

But we very well know why we yawn, right? Sleepless nights, exhaustion, boredom, these things can cause your brain to heat up causing us to inhale a good amount of air as a process to cool the brain. According to scientists, yawning is developed as a physiological way to cool the brain. Similar to computers, the brain works well at a certain level of temperature. When that temperature drops, the brain will start to heat up and will result to you yawning. When the cool air enters the body it automatically alter the blood in our head.

Yawning  in Children

Research and studies proved that yawning is directly linked to empathy. Children ages 4 to 5 years are prone and contagious to yawning. This is the very stage where they develop an ability to understand and connect with others’ emotional states. This is the age, where they become aware of the people around them and how they behave.

With that being said, adult and children alike with empathy-related deficiency like autism are less susceptible to the “Contagious yawning” phenomena. Moreover, another study also mentioned that the more people age, the less likely they are affected.

The Mirror Effect

There are also what we call mirror neuron which fires every time when an animal or humans acts the same way as the other. This is mostly observable to close friends or families. A person can imitate and copy the exact and very way one person’s yawn. This is like to happen to people that you are socially or genetically close to you. Even dogs can imitate the way their owners yawn.


Yawning in Animals

In the case of animals, yawning is also a way for them to cool down especially those that do not have sweat glands like dogs. Others to show dominance, like the lions, guinea pigs do so to show anger, pigs yawn too. And this may be weird but sharks and chimpanzees are prime examples of contagious yawining. Scientists haven’t discovered why this is so, well, not yet.

via: funnystack.com

 So, going back to you? How many times have you yawn so far?

I have  counted about 12 the whole time I’m writing this article.