#282 – Contagious Yawning?

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Based on research done by Kapitány, Rohan., & Nielsen, Mark. (2017) written by Bethany Wellman, M.S.

When someone yawns, does it make you yawn, too? Yawning is contagious, right?

Researchers set out to answer whether yawns happened more often in the presence of others or when alone, whether yawning was in fact contagious and if there is a relationship between one triggering yawn to other’s subsequent yawns.

To best answer these questions, 80 participants in Australia completed 16 sessions in which they sat facing each other, half were blindfolded. All listened to an audio program. Afterwards, they responded to a survey questioning their interest in the audio program, level of sleepiness, recollection of yawning during the session, and general yawning tendencies.

Results indicated that blindfolded participants had significantly less yawns during the session than those not blindfolded, which indicates that the observation of yawns increases yawning behavior. Furthermore, it was found that after yawning once, people are likely to yawn again within 5 minutes of their first yawn.  Due to long periods in between yawns the findings couldn’t say for certain that yawning is contagious yet it does seem to occur more often in social circumstances and comes most often in clusters.

Is yawning contagious? Maybe, just maybe.

References:

Kapitány, R., & Nielsen, M. (2017). Are Yawns really Contagious? A Critique and Quantification of Yawn Contagion. Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology3, 134-155.

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