Those who stay together yawn together

You're more likely to respond to a yawn with another yawn when it comes from family member or a friend than from a stranger, says a study published Dec. 7 in the online journal PLoS ONE.

The phenomenon of "yawn contagion" is widely known but little understood, and this new study, led by Ivan Norscia and Elisabetta Palagi of the University of Pisa in Italy, suggests that it occurs at least in part as a form of social . The researchers found that yawn contagion was highest in response to kin, then friends, then acquaintances, and finally strangers - the same pattern as is seen for other measures of empathy as well.

Based on these results, the authors conclude that "for the first time, yawn contagion is affected by the empathic bond that links two people, by considering humans in their natural settings."

More information: Norscia I, Palagi E (2011) Yawn Contagion and Empathy in Homo sapiens. PLoS ONE 6(12): e28472. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0028472

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Huge yawn locks jaw, chokes man

Nov 19, 2007

A British man was rushed to the hospital after his monster yawn locked his jaw, blocking his ability to breathe or swallow.

Yawn alert for weary drivers

Jul 27, 2009

We've all experienced it after long hours driving, the eyelids getting heavy, a deep yawn, neck muscles relaxing, the urge to sleep, the head nodding down... But, you're hands are still on the wheel and you only just stopped ...

New study alters long-held beliefs about shingles

Feb 01, 2011

For decades, medical wisdom about shingles has been that it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The commonly-held belief is that patients are protected from a recurrence of the herpes zoster virus, which causes shingles, after ...

Recommended for you

Report advocates improved police training

Aug 29, 2014

A new report released yesterday by the Mental Health Commission of Canada identifies ways to improve the mental health training and education that police personnel receive.

Meaningful relationships can help you thrive

Aug 29, 2014

Deep and meaningful relationships play a vital role in overall well-being. Past research has shown that individuals with supportive and rewarding relationships have better mental health, higher levels of subjective well-being ...

Learning to read involves tricking the brain

Aug 29, 2014

While reading, children and adults alike must avoid confusing mirror-image letters (like b/d or p/q). Why is it difficult to differentiate these letters? When learning to read, our brain must be able to inhibit ...

User comments