“Contagious” Yawning Occurs More Among Loved Ones

So-called contagious yawning is a type of psychological effect that happens only in response to seeing, hearing, or reading about yawning.

Though there have been previous hints of a link between contagious yawning and empathy, the new study marks the first time scientists have actually observed the connection.


New statistical models showed that the rate at which people yawned contagiously was highest in response to kin, then friends, then acquaintances, and lastly strangers.


The findings suggest that yawning is a form of empathizing with people experiencing a feeling, which—in the case of yawning—usually means stress, anxiety, boredom, or fatigue.