Is Yawning Actually Contagious?


I can’t even lie.  As I uploading this picture, I looked at it and probably yawned three times.  People always say if you see someone yawn, you yawn.  Does this mean yawning is actually contagious?

A study by the University of Connecticut in 2010 concluded that that most kids do not contagiously yawn until they’re around four years old.  Also, kids with autism are less likely to yawn contagiously.  What does this mean?  Well, many experts say contagious yawning is not actually related to how tired an individual is, their empathy, or how much energy they have.

The word “yawn” can actually also make people yawn.  Be honest, did you yawn reading this?  Contagious yawning only happens in chimpanzees or humans.  This occurs when the animal sees a yawn, hears a yawn, or thinks about a yawn.

Some experts say if you yawn when you see someone else yawn, it is a sign of empathy and shows bonding socially.  Neurologists went through brain imaging and found that this type of yawning is associated with the part of the brain that shows one’s empathy.  In another study, age seemed to play a big role in contagious yawning.  In the study, more than 80 percent of people younger than 25 yawned contagiously.  Sixty percent of people ages 25 to 49 yawned contagiously.  Although in this study age was seen to play a big role, it ended up being only an 8 percent difference.  As Elizabeth Cirulli, Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine at the Center for Human Genome Variation at Duke University School of Medicine said, “The vast majority of variation in the contagious yawning response was just not explained”.  Each expert had a different approach and ended up with a different conclusion on why yawning is contagious.  And although this is so, all of them believed that yawning is actually contagious.

Want to see if you can control your yawns?  Try and pass the yawn o meter test here! Let me know how you do! 🙂


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2 thoughts on “Is Yawning Actually Contagious?

  1. Erika Michele Cristiano

    Every time someone yawns and I’m looking at them I yawn! I definitely believe that yawning is contagious and this blog just reassured me of that. I find it amazing that this study worked on chimpanzees as well as humans. Also I failed the yawn o meter test on the first yawn!

  2. ska5221

    I didn’t believe yawning was actually contagious until I read this. Of course I was convinced it was from all the years of feeling obligated to yawn when I saw someone else yawn. You said that contagious yawning occurs with humans and chimpanzees, but this study says that it happens with dogs also.

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