The Phenomenon of Yawning
We yawn countless times during ourlifetime. This is an involuntary action which can be best describedas a process of opening our mouth wide for about 5 seconds, violentlyinhaling air due to boredom, fatigue or lack of oxygen.
This phenomenon is present in allpeople, even infants while still being in the womb. Also, mostanimals yawn as well. However, the most interesting claim aboutyawning is that it is contagious.
I Yawn – You Yawn
Numerous researches have been carriedout on the subject of yawning being contagious. Most of them haveproven valuable points. For example, we know that most people willyawn when they see other people performing the same action. Moreover,they will yawn if they read about yawning, hear the sound of yawingover the phone or think about this action. Therefore blind and deafpeople yawn as well. Animals yawn after seeing a member of theirspecies yawn.
However, babies and infants do notrespond to these stimuli, making this subject even more peculiar.Additionally, people with autism or schizophrenia seem to be immuneto other people yawning. This caused a lot of interest within thescientific circles and various researches were directed towardsfinding out why and how is yawning contagious, or whether it iscontagious at all.
Is Yawning Contagious?
Firstly, yawning may be contagious ifthe group of people affected by it are located under the sameconditions. For example, being together in a place lacking oxygen,many people may yawn at once, since their bodies react the same tothis situation.
There are other, more interestingclaims, however. Namely, some scientist say that yawning in groupsdates back to our primitive age, where we, affected by instincts,used our teeth and opened our mouth to show other people that we aremore dangerous than they are, intimidating them. Also, this couldhave been a signal for sleeping time in tribes or other groups ofpeople, becoming an instinct later. Furthermore, people who wereyawning often were thought to be less capable of defending themselvesand were, therefore, protected.
Finally, there are claims that thereare special centers in our brain which read other people's faces andreact to the stimuli received from this source. Subsequently, seeingsomeone yawn, your brain, subconsciously, imitates the process forsome reason.
All in all, we yawn when we see otherpeople do the same. The question why this is so, remains a mystery yet to besolved.