Why are yawns contagious?

There has been a considerable amount of research into the subject why are yawns contagious? Many people still are of the opinion that yawns are not contagious but research suggests that many of the cases of yawns are contagious.

There are many such facts about our body which are actually weird but you would be surprised to find the reason and logic behind these things. Every response of our body has a proper reason.

We would be discussing one such fact today, that is whether yawning can really be contagious.

Now whether they are contagious due to just normal social behavior or there is some deeper connection to it, that is what is confusing many people.

We would be going into the details of the contagious nature of yawns in this article of ours.

Why are yawns contagious?

While contagious yawning is pretty common but it does not affect each and every person. If you are already tired or are going through a work which is quite boring, then you can easily suffer from contagious yawning. Also, when you are reading the word yawning then also you may suffer from yawning.

In most of the cases, people who are strong mentally are not easily susceptible to contagious yawning. People who are young were found to be suffering from the phenomena of contagious yawning quite frequently.

There have been a lot of studies which have been conducted on the subject which have proven that yawning and empathy are not related to each other which was believed to be true earlier. Neither is the cause of contagious yawning related to the sex of the person or the time of the day at which this phenomena occurs.

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Even after consistent research, scientists are not able to come to a hard conclusion regarding what is the cause of contagious yawning. Some say it is just psychological behavior whereas some others say it triggers a reaction in our body when we see someone yawning and that is why we also suffer from contagious yawning.

Some of the research is also taken into account the genetic effects and contagious yawning but no significant amount of research has concluded that contagious yawning is hereditary. The research is also significant because if we are able to reduce the problem of contagious yawning, by taking into account the genetics then the same research can be used to reduce the problem of schizophrenia and autism, both of which are hereditary to a certain extent.

Why are yawns contagiousOne of the conclusions to which scientists have reached, after studying contagious yawning is that it is a part of social bonding and the same happens in contagious laughing as well as in contagious crying. Contagious yawning is only seen in humans and chimpanzees and in no other vertebrates.

Contagious yawning is particularly common when you’re working in stressful situations because yawning helps you in busting out the stress and relax in your body by taking a small short break until you get over the yawn.

Some of the researchers have associated contagious yawning with empathy but there is opposing research as well. Empathy is the feeling of understanding towards the emotional state of others. If indeed, contagious yawning is related to empathy, it explains perfectly why if a single person yawns in the group, why does it turn contagious. This is because you are associating with the emotional state of that person and it becomes a part of social bonding. While some of the research is in support of this, there is also some research in opposition of this and therefore it is still not proven whether contagious yawning is because of empathy.

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Empathy is a feeling which is developed in humans, when we are a child and it is normal human behavior to show empathy. In fact, people who are suffering from mental disorders, do not have any kind of empathy but all other normal people have empathy.

Some of the researchers have also conducted brain scanning while contagious yawning behavior. These researchers have come to the conclusion that the parts of the brain which are stimulated during contagious yawning are the same parts of the brain which are stimulated when you’re having the emotion of empathy. That is why, there is a lot of research supporting the theory of empathy causing contagious yawning. This however does not explain why, as you age, the problem of contagious yawning decreases significantly because ideally as you age, the feeling of empathy would be growing even more specially during the old age but the practice of contagious yawning was found to be almost absent in older people. That is why, there is no clear-cut research to associate empathy with contagious yawning.

If the mystery of contagious yawning get solved, we would have a success in solving a lot of brain disorders and in ensuring that we are able to prevent them from happening in our future generation as well and that is why the research of contagious yawning is such an important research for mankind. Scientists are putting in a lot of effort to find out the cause as it would explain why humans react in a emotional situation, the way in which they do and that is why it is important to understand the cause of contagious yawning.

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It is also subject of intrigue why only humans and chimpanzees suffer from contagious yawning and not any other vertebrates. Almost all of the vertebrates experience yawning even snakes but leaving alone humans and chimpanzees no other vertebrate goes through the process of contagious yawning. That is why the scientists are intrigued as to why only humans and chimpanzees among all the vertebrates suffer from contagious yawning and which factor is common in humans and chimpanzees which causes this.

So, the most concrete answer for why are yawns contagious, is still not available after years of research but some of the research does associate contagious yawning with empathy which is a emotion which is seen in humans since quite a young age and also contagious yawning has been associated with social bonding as well in humans and only time will tell what is the exact cause of contagious yawning and whether the exact cause of contagious yawning would help us in solving more serious medical problems like autism or schizophrenia which have plagued mankind for generations.