Why is yawning contagious? Scientists unravel the mystery!

You see a person yawning and almost automatically you open your mouth, even if you are not sleepy or bored. Why does it happen? Until recently, this fact was a mystery. No scientist could figure out why yawning is contagious. But that may have been in the past.

Researchers at the University of Vienna conducted a study in conjunction with Nova Southeastern University and SUNY College in the United States, and found that contagious yawning occurs only in certain areas with mild outside temperatures, excluding extreme temperatures (very hot or very cold). .

We feel like yawning when we see each other yawning because it's a survival mechanism that has the side effect of refreshing our brains, making us more alert and less likely to doze off. It is almost a communication process: our brain is the receiver that receives the sender's message and reproduces the action.


How was the research done?

Jorg Massen and Kim Dusch of the University of Vienna during summer and winter approached pedestrians, showed pictures of people yawning, and watched if people reproduced the same act. The result was compared to an identical study conducted in the arid climate of Arizona, United States.

They concluded that this is not about the seasons or daylight. Contagious yawning occurs according to the thermal zone or room temperature around 20 ° C. In contrast, when the weather was over 37 ° C (very hot) or around freezing (very cold), contagious yawning decreased considerably.

Massen, lead author of the research, states that yawning is not functional when the room temperature is as hot as our body, and may be unnecessary or even harmful. Our brain knows this and acts exactly that way.

Better understand yawning

In spontaneous form, yawning can occur before and after sleep, when we are bored, under stress, or when stimulated. Scientists say that, whether spontaneously or contagiously, yawning is related to regulating the brain's temperature because it helps increase oxygen supply.

Yawning keeps the brain temperature balanced. For this reason, researchers also claim that excessive yawning in the cold can even be harmful as it can make the brain very cold.


Scientifically proven or not, it's still very interesting that we yawn when we see someone doing it. Is that you? Did you yawn at seeing our images?