Why Does One Feel The Urge To Yawn Upon Seeing Another Yawn?


29 Answers

Arthur Wright Profile
Arthur Wright answered
Its just a natural subconscience reaction to something we see and we react to it in the very same way. Theres no logical explanation to why other than its just one of those unexplained givens in Nature that it is for sure to happen. Its like when someone says hi to us, we just naturally say hi back, not that we have anything in common with that person, its just happens without any thinking or reason, or like the sun rising in the east, we just take it for granted that it will everyday but most of us never think about it because we know itll be there. Just chalk this, like many things up to the "givens" of Mother Nature and we may never know why other tha it just is
Midnite star Profile
Midnite star answered
I'd read an article on this long ago, but at the moment, I can't remember s___!!. I think it said a yawn was simply a body's need for oxygen; as in what happens when your sleepy or bored. You breathe in less at those times. Why we repeated it after another person, was something to do with the human brain, but like I said...CRS sufferer...LOL If the total answer comes to me later, I'll let ya know...Unless somebody else beats me to the punch !! ( Yawwwwwwnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn) Must be the power of suggestion....like many other things.
thanked the writer.
carrie commented
I remember reading something about yawning being your bodies attempt to get more oxygen. Whever I would yawn after I read the article and someone would ask if I was tired, I would tell them, no, just oxygen deprived....
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
Yawns are catching! I don't know why. I bet someone has done research on the subject and has some explanation. All I know is that when one person yawns everyone around them will start yawning. It is like a chain-reaction. It is especially embarrassing during lectures or Sunday School.
sherrie hunter Profile
sherrie hunter answered
I don't know..probably same as why we open our mouths when feeding a baby!!
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
Lets start with what a yawn does. The lungs are not fully inflated all of the time. A yawn opens the areas of the lung that are not fully inflated.

If you are getting sleepy, then additional oxygen can help wake you up. This can be triggered unconsciously; or consciously anytime you "think" about related topics, ie tired, they are tired, bed time, bored. Seeing someone yawn, causes you to think about the person yawning and triggers the response.

Why do you yawn when you see another person yawn? You do this only with people you have some rapport (identification) with. People are like mirrors, they reflect other people they watch. The closer they are paying attention to them, the more "infectious" the behavior. Watch whether you yawn when you see a person, that you dislike a lot, yawns. In situations where you don't like someone, and think that you don't have anything in common with them, you may not yawn. This can help you begin to see how much of what you really think, is unknown to even yourself. You are essentially saying, unconsciously to yourself, "I'm not a thing like THAT person, and if they are tired, I'm NOT; if they need more air, I DON'T.

Yawning also relaxes the muscles in the jaw, and to a degree in the neck, and thus helps you relax. There are several Yoga stretches that incorporate the motions of yawning. When you are starting to get a tension headache, try yawning relax those shoulders, and your neck.

Often when dogs yawn it signals that they are relaxed in the situation. For dogs, it may even signal that they find amusement in something.
Shirley McLean Profile
Shirley McLean answered
I've ALWAYS wondered about this. I yawn if I read the word, I'm yawning now ( I don't even know if I can get to the end of my answer),I yawn if I hear someone yawn, ( there I go again), I yawn if someone says the word yawn (yep..that one came with an eye twitch and a tear). I know the reason for a yawn...our bodies need a boost of oxygen, and that's the best, fastest and quickest way to get it. But when others yawn when seeing another person yawn, I think it's a "sympathetic" yawn, like in "sympathetic vomiting" ('scuse me), sympathetic pregnancy symptoms, sympathetic headaches. It could be the body or mind mirroring someone else, but with me, it can be a perfect stranger. I don't know about yawns being contagious, because of the fact that you don't always have to be in the presence of an actual yawner to mimic the action. It's a conundrum.
Jim Witness Protection Profile
Actually, a yawn is a sign of communication. In studies with primates, it is believed to be a signal of acceptance because there is no noise associated with it. Conversely, when primates become aggressive or defensive, they make the same mouth movement but emit howls and other forms of verbal audible signals. They have attempted this study with humans, but everyone falls asleep before they can begin the session!
Mati green Profile
Mati green answered
We discussed Yawning for over an hour in anatomy class, and during that time we were to keep track of how many times we yawned while talking about it... We all yawned dozens of times. There isnt really any physical reason to yawn when we're tired. Or bored. I have to agree its got to be a form of unconscious communication. Ive yawned at least 10 times while typing this....lol.
Dena May Profile
Dena May answered
Ok i do not know why we tend to yawn at the site of someone else. I thought i would share a little info i have heard about yawning however. I heard that we yawn when their is a lack of oxygen in our brain. The yawning puts more oxygen back into our brain. Do not know if this is a fact however.
nettie Profile
nettie answered
Sorry dear but just getting in on your question, been gone, but what I hear is that your lungs are low on oxygen and the person yawning is pulling some of your oxygen which in turn makes you yawn, I've heard this a lot so tend to stick to my story...smile, How are you dear?
greg c Profile
greg c answered
Specifically, one of the most significant mysteries of mankind!!! Because the study is chock full of technical jargon i am left with no choice but to refer you to the site and let you try and figure it out!! World-science.net/exclusives/050309_yawnfrm.htm. Pretty interesting article. Have fun...as i yawn!!
patrick mc mullan Profile
All right , here is my theory. Have you ever watched a film where someone is drowning and you suddenly realise you are holding your breath for them. Its a kind of psychological reflex action which happens subconsciously. Yawning is the bodies way of taking in a deep breath to replenish it with more oxygen. So i believe it is a trigger for someone else on a subconscious level tom do the same. Sometimes you dont need to see the yawn but hear it in order to trigger the reflex. Well thats my theory anyway. :)
Alan Profile
Alan answered
Nobody Knows for sure.
Some researchers have proposed that in early humans, yawn contagiousness may have helped people communicate their alertness levels to each other, and thus coordinate their sleep paterns.
As you dont have to think about yawning, then it must be initiated in you subconscious. As we do make a noise yawning and our face and mouth move, it may well be some kind of sign to others or one's self of tiredness and ready for bedness lol.

:^( )
John Profile
John answered
I'm going to go with that in your mind you think back to when your just getting out of your nice warm bed and stretching that you yawn and at that time you probably feel the best you can all day long .so when you see someone else yawn it triggers that thought so you yawn making you feel like you just got out of your nice warm bed, making you feel great all over again...or your beat down dog tired and your body is trying to tell you it's time to go to sleep soo zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!
Kristi W Profile
Kristi W answered
I do it even when someone talks about yawning..lol I am doing it now...oh wait it is 4 in the morning, maybe I should go to bed..lol
james caison Profile
james caison answered
Yawning is a sign of your brain telling you to wake up, you generally yawn when you are bored or tired,
it is not subconscience, or a form of communication.
Jacquelyn Mathis Profile
Thank you dear, I am now yawning. Lol I think it must be a subliminal message, power of suggestion type thing, lol
martha Profile
martha answered
It is strange- but yawns are contagious. I always heard we yawn because we are not getting enough oxygen to the brain. Boy I yawn ALOT so what does that say about me! :}
sanjay kumar Profile
sanjay kumar answered
A person Yawns to take in more oxygen for the lungs. When sitting in a room, other person sees you yawn, his brain too signals to get extra oxygen and so he too does it. It is like an involuntary action
Onetwo Bucklemyshoe Profile
Interesting question. I don't have the answer. I tend to yawn when other people yawn, involuntarily; just as a reaction. It's a fascinating subject! Research is being done and there is a lot of speculation over whether or not yawning is actually physically "contagious." Deeni
Mac Duncan Profile
Mac Duncan answered
Mythbusters did something on this and proved that yawns are contagious. But they still have yet to prove why.
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
I do not know what makes a person yawn when they see some one else do it maybe it is just a reaction.
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
Just thinking about yawning makes me yawn!! Yes, power of suggestion as Midnite13 suggests or boredom? Nothing worse than starting the yawning effect in the front row at church Sunday morning....
thanked the writer.
Pamela Krueger
Pamela Krueger commented
This is actually me...Desertkid...answering this question. I forgot to log-in and blurtit thinks I'm a guest! LOL
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
Just by reading the word "yawn"......I yawned by spontaneous effect! LOL!! (not kidding). Amazing, isn't it???
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
I think that by watching someone else yawn, which means that the person needs higher levels of oxygen in his/her system, your brain automatically picks up on this signal and thinks that it must make your body yawn, too, because there must be low levels of oxygen in the room if the other person is yawning. I don't know if that made sense...

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