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May 26, 2022

Why Yawning Is Contagious?

When we see a person yawn, it makes us yawn too. This is just not true for humans, but other social animals like lions and chimpanzees also show the same behavior of contagious yawning.


There is some evidence which highlights the fact that such yawning has evolved over time, for our own safety. Let us explore the details.

Has yawning any role to play in increasing blood oxygen levels?

The answer is no since yawning and breathing are managed by separate mechanisms. For example we notice that marine mammals are able to yawn underwater. This clearly highlights the fact that they are not breathing while yawning.

What is the role of yawning for our body?

It is a kind of complex reflex action. Yawning is triggered due to different neuro psychological signals . Yawning commonly takes place when there is state change. For instance, when we transition from sleeping to waking. Research shows that yawning plays a role in promoting alertness.

Does temperature has a role in triggering yawning?

There are different studies which reveal that body and brain temperature, as well as ambient temperature can be changed to manipulate frequency of yawning.

Is it true that yawning is contagious in all animals?

Such contagious yawning has been documented in social animals such as humans, chimpanzees, and lions. However, considerable variability has been noticed in response to yawning in individuals. Some individuals yawn contagiously while other people do not.

Why there is variability in contagious yawning?

Research highlights the fact that empathy plays a role in controlling yawning response. So is it true ? We tend to yawn when we see others do the same. We commonly notice yawning at certain times during the day when there is transitions taking place.

Many believe that this process evolved for synchronizing group behavior. For example, yawning may help improve vigilance in a group. Yawning signifies reduced attention and when another person yawns, the observer increases vigilance for compensating poor vigilance by the yawning person.

A study has also been conducted to check this process. During the study people were shown different images which consisted of snake images where snake images fall in the category of threatening stimuli. And there were images of frogs which fall in non-threatening stimuli group.

When these people were shown videos of other people yawning, their reaction was noticed. When they saw other people yawning, their capability to identify as well as detect threatening stimuli in the form of snakes improved. On the other hand capability of detection of frogs remained the same.