Study: PLOS ONE: In Bonobos Yawn Contagion Is Higher among Kin and Friends

In humans, the distribution of yawn contagion is shaped by social closeness with strongly bonded pairs showing higher levels of contagion than weakly bonded pairs. This ethological finding led the authors to hypothesize that the phenomenon of yawn contagion may be the result of certain empathic abilities, although in their most basal form. Here, for the first time, we show the capacity of bonobos (Pan paniscus) to respond to yawns of conspecifics…. The importance of social bonding in shaping yawn contagion in bonobos, as it occurs in humans, is consistent with the hypothesis that empathy may play a role in the modulation of this phenomenon in both species.


Elisa Demuru
Elisabetta Palagi