Who has not found him or herself yawning for no reason? Why does someone start yawning and then more than half of the class keeps on doing it? Yawning is intriguing to me since I am a person who does it a lot. There is a myth about how it is contagious and that is why I decided to do some research about it to find out if it actually is.
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Many believe, yawning is contagious. Why? There is not a clear answer but several experiments have been made to figure that out. Somehow scientists have arrived to the conclusion that yawning may be correlated with age, empathy, or other social factors.
According to Psychology Today (Bergland, 2014) The University of Connecticut and Duke University have conducted several research studies in which their purpose has been to find a factor that causes contagious yawning. However, both had different results.
The University of Connecticut discovered that contagious yawning is a sign of empathy. They thought this after studying a group of 30 children located within the autism spectrum. The results of the study were that children who had severe autism were not likely to yawn contagiously while the others did. This means that there is a social need for a person to yawn after watching someone doing it. However, there is not enough data that could support this hypothesis yet, as there many other factors that need to be taken in consideration.
On the other hand, Duke University suggested that empathy has no correlation to yawning but that it depends mostly of the age of a person. For instance, their findings demonstrated that children can be more susceptible to contagious yawning than aged people. These conclusion surged from the fact that from out of 328 test subjects, younger individuals were more likely to yawn with others while watching a video. This was the only factor that varied in the experiment. But this factor was only responsible for a low percent of variability which makes scientists believe that there is no current explanation as of why there is an increase of contagious yawning in some people more than in others.
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The article explains that there are two types of yawning: contagious and spontaneous yawning. Spontaneous yawning is believed to be caused by factors such as fatigue or sleepiness, while contagious yawning does not have concrete factors but is known to be existent.
Here is an interesting video that will measure how much time can you last without yawning while watching many people yawn. Hope you like it