American researchers have discovered why yawning is contagious. The phenomenon is related to our ability to empathize.
Someone yawns near you, immediately, the urge to yawn takes you too. This curious phenomenon is due to a hormone. Californian researchers at Stanford University show in a study that oxytocin, a hormone associated with empathy, is associated with yawning.
From the belly of our mother and until our old days, we gag throughout our existence. Sometimes we do it because we are tired, other times it is waking at the same time as the stretching. A hearty meal can also be followed by some yawning. The gesture can also be a symptom of a disease, especially for certain meningitis or during carbon monoxide poisoning.
A link with autism spectrum disorders
The role of yawning is still mysterious, but its contagious appearance is less and less so. At Stanford University, the research team recruited 64 children aged 6 to 12, 34 of whom had autism spectrum disorders. The researchers found that children with autism yawned less by mimicry, compared to others. Their oxytocin levels were measured: it was lower for some children with autism spectrum disorders. According to the researchers, this hormone of empathy would be correlated with the propensity to be sensitive to contagious yawning, ie the higher its rate, the more likely it is that the person yawns after yawning. someone else.
Women yawn more by mimicry
In 2016, a study was devoted to behavioral differences in relation to yawning by gender. With more than 4,000 yawning data, the researchers concluded that women are more susceptible to contagious yawning. They also found that knowing and feeling close to a person increases the frequency of this type of yawning.