Caution: You may yawn many times while reading this blog post.
You’re sitting in a crowded room, you lock eyes with a random person and they yawn. Seconds later, you try to control yourself, but you cant hold it back and a yawn emerges from your mouth.
The other day I was sitting in class and saw one of my peers let out a big yawn. I immediately tried to resist, but couldn’t and had to yawn myself. I have heard and experienced the idea that when someone else yawns and you see it, that it is nearly impossible for you not to yawn. But why? After doing some research from mental_floss, Why Are Yawns Contagious yawning has been found to be contagious in not only humans but also many animals such as chimps and many other mammals. Not only can seeing someone make you yawn, but reading about or hearing about someone yawning can also make you yawn!
Yawning can be linked back to emotions. Have you ever been super bored by what someone was saying to you, so you purposely yawn in their face, as a nice way to tell them to shut up? Or vice-versa, you are listening to one of your teachers talk during office hours, and you hold back that yawn that is trying to sneak out of your mouth, in order to be respectful. Yawning can say a lot about how you are feeling, for example, tired or bored.
Did you know that the older you get, the less likely you are to be affected by contagious yawning? I believe that this is because as we get older, our senses become less sharp. Our hearing starts to go, our eye sight becomes worst and perhaps our ability to perceive if someone is yawning and for our brain to process that the yawning is contagious, also starts to worsen.
I think that one of the most interesting things that I found during my research of yawning was that people with developmental disorders such as autism are less likely to be affected by the fact that yawning is contagious. I found it intriguing how their brain works in a different way than most during the day to day life, but something as unconscious as yawning after someone else yawns, is not part of their routine.
Picture from, Why Are Yawns Contagious .
When reading up on this, I found that one of the most interesting explanation for this, was that it was a nervous tic for many people. When people are nervous they tend to gravitate to do certain things that will calm their nerves. For me, I tend to play with my hair and twirl it around, for others it can include biting the inside or cheeks or biting nails. For many a nervous habit can be yawning.
I challenge you to watch someone yawn, and not yawn back. Also, if you yawned at least once when reading this post, let me know! Im eager to see the results of this phenomenon.