You’re more likely to catch a yawn from a relative than a stranger

“The importance of social bond in shaping yawn contagion demonstrates that empathy plays a leading role in the modulation of this phenomenon,”


Contagious yawning is also seen in monkeys and great apes. Indeed, this new study replicates similar findings with chimps, where the yawn contagion is greater between group members, and findings with baboons, for whom yawns are more often caught from intimate yawners (where intimacy is discerned from rates of mutual grooming). “When considered together,” the researchers concluded, “these results suggest that the relationship between yawn contagion and empathy may have developed earlier than the last common ancestor between monkeys, humans and non-human apes.”


by Christian Jarrett