Here`s why yawning is contagious

Last Updated: Thursday, September 16, 2010 - 12:29

Washington: If somebody yawns it is likely that most of the people nearby will probably do the same – something that we call contagious yawning.

Now, a new study has shed light on why contagious yawning is such a powerful force.

The research suggests that yawning when others yawn is a sign of empathy and a form of social bonding.

Kids don`t develop this deeply rooted behavior until around age four, the study found. Kids with autism are half as likely to catch yawns. In the most severe cases, they never do.

Yawning might eventually help doctors diagnose developmental disorders. The work could also lead to a better understanding of the subtle ways that people communicate and connect.

"Emotional contagion seems to be a primal instinct that binds us together. Yawning may be part of that," Discovery News quoted Molly Helt, a graduate student in clinical psychology at the University of Connecticut, Storrs, as saying.

"The fact that autistic kids don`t do it might mean they`re really missing out on that unconscious emotional linkage to those around them.

"The big thing people try to figure out in infant development is how we become humans who understand that humans have minds that are different from ours. Autistic people never sort of seem to understand that," she added.


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First Published: Thursday, September 16, 2010 - 12:29

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