New Yawn Research Results Suggest Dogs Empathize with Humans

University of Tokyo researchers Teresa Romero and colleagues published new research today (August 7th, 2013) that may bring us a step closer to understanding the science behind yawns. Their study, Familiarity Bias and Physiological Responses in Contagious Yawning by Dogs Support Link to Empathy, can be read in full on the open access journal PLOS ONE. To very quickly summarize, their study results showed that pet dogs respond more often to the yawns of their owners than to those of strangers. Dogs also responded more often (by yawning back) to real yawns than to mimicked, or fake, yawns.