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Why Do You Yawn When You See Someone Yawning?

Why Do You Yawn When You See Someone Yawning?

You probably yawn when you see a person yawning next to you. Well, it happens to almost every one of us but hardly anyone knows the reason behind it. You generally yawn due to a universal phenomenon called ‘contagious yawning’.

But sometimes there could be some other reason too. You yawn when you become tired or bored of doing something, this is known as spontaneous yawning.

People think that there is some connection between contagious yawning and empathy. But they are wrong as a study done recently at the Duke University suggests that contagious yawning is not related to variables like empathy, tiredness, or energy levels .

So, what are the factors that influence contagious yawning? (Also read: 7 Awesome Things To Do When You Are Bored At Work)

According to the study titled, ‘Individual Variation in Contagious Yawning Susceptibility Is Highly Stable and Largely Unexplained by Empathy or Other Known Factors’, contagious yawning may decrease as people age and may not be associated with empathy.

“Lack of association between contagious yawning and empathy suggests that contagious yawning is not simply a product of one's capacity for empathy," said author Elizabeth Cirulli, Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine, at the Center for Human Genome Variation at Duke University School of Medicine.

In fact, a better understanding of the biology involved in contagious yawning could ultimately lead to a better understanding of illnesses such as schizophrenia and autism.

Following are some of the findings of the study:

1. Most children aren't susceptible to contagious yawning until they're about four years old.

2. Children with autism are less likely to yawn contagiously compared to others.

3. Contagious yawning is a phenomenon that only occurs in humans and chimpanzees as a response to hearing, seeing, or even thinking about yawning.

4. Certain individuals are more susceptible to contagious yawning than others.

5. Spontaneous yawning is first observed in the womb, while contagious yawning doesn’t begin until early childhood.

Further, the researchers did not find any connection between contagious yawning and intelligence, or time of day. The only independent factor that significantly influenced contagious yawning was age as it increased, participants were less likely to yawn. However, age factor could only explain 8% of the variability in the contagious yawn response.

Conclusion : Age was the most important predictor of contagious yawning, and even age was not that important. The vast majority of variation in the contagious yawning response was not explained and it remains an unexplained mystery to scientists.

(Image: Indiatimes)

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