Yawns Contagious Among Friends Says Italian Study
A study showed that yawns are contagious among friends, according to The Scientist magazine.
The study by University of Pisa researchers, published in the journal PLos ONE, suggest that the contagion may be due to social empathy—contagious as far as frequency, occurrence and response when among friends and close acquaintances. Researchers studied 109 people from Europe, North America, Asia and Africa.
“We present the only naturalistic study of yawn contagion in humans that provides evidence of the linkage between yawn contagion and empathy,” the authors said as quoted by The Scientist. “Our results demonstrate that yawn contagion is primarily driven by the emotional closeness between individuals.”
The website Livescience said that researchers like Matthew Campbell at Emory University agreed with the conclusion that social empathy had some involvement in making yawning contagious.
"I think what the study does is it supports the idea that empathy is the mechanism that underlies contagious yawns," he said, who had no involvement in the study. "The idea is that it's the same mechanism by which we catch smiles or frowns or fearful expressions."