Here's Why You Yawn When Someone Else Does As Well

Dhruvi Modi , 28 May 2019

Did you yawn while looking at this gif? Don’t worry, so did I! And that’s exactly how almost 60-70% of the world population reacts to yawns. Yawning is contagious, and even merely reading the word can cause one to yawn. I have always wondered why this happens, and so I did my research and got down to the bottom of it. Here are 4 reasons why we yawn when we see someone else doing so as well:

1. It means you are empathetic

According to numerous studies, the science behind contagious yawning boils down to one main reason—empathy. People with higher levels of empathy tend to catch other people’s yawns more easily. As humans, we are wired to replicate people’s behaviour while we are around them. If someone flashes you a nice smile, you would automatically do the same right? Same goes for yawning!

2. Our brains are wired in such a way

Contagious yawning is a type of phenomenon that scientists term as ‘echo phenomenon’. This happens because our brain will automatically imitate other human beings’ behaviour. So, the motor functions in our brain result in us trying to mirror certain expressions. Crazy, right?

3. Age matters

Studies prove that the younger you are, the more likely you are to catch yawns.  And no, it is not because we are likely tired or sleepy. Scientifically, children are not able to catch yawns until the ages of 4 and above, likely when they are able to feel emotions on a more deeper level.

4. It’s a form of social communication

Yawning dates back to our ancestors. Back in the primitive ages, cavemen used yawning as a form of social communication method. Thus, yawning acted as a signal of safety and bonding.

How often did you guys yawn while reading this article? Let us know in the comments below!

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