Contagious yawning in adults and children

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Yawning is contagious and not only in adults, but also in children aged two and a half and up.

This was revealed by a research published in the journal Developmental Psychobiology, coordinated by three researchers in ethology of the University of Pisa, female doctors Jade Cordoni ed Eleonora Favilli of the Museum of Natural History of Calci and the teacher Elisabetta Palagi of the Department of Biology.

In this article

  • Infectious yawning even for children
  • Contagiousness of yawning, other study findings 

Contagious yawning even in children

Yawning is a primitive motor action involving the orofacial, laryngeal, pharyngeal, thoracic and abdominal muscles.

On the other hand, the "contagious yawn" is an involuntary action induced by seeing or listening to the yawns of others and is generally understood as a sign of empathy and social bond. Its presence is scientifically proven in humans and in several non-human species.

The study in question involved 129 children preschoolers (aged between 2,5 and 5,5 years) belonging to five classes different. Videos were recorded in the five classrooms during normal school activities and it was found that, just like in adult humans, children of all ages were "infected" by the yawns of others within two minutes from the perception of the stimulus.

Read also: Does the child not want to sleep? Try one of these 25 strategies

Contagiousness of yawning, other study findings

The yawning infection occurred much earlier than researchers thought. It also appears that thenatural social environment, for children, is more conducive to yawning contagion than the experimental and inherently artificial approach of research.

Furthermore, the gender of children did not affect the level of contagiousness of yawning. The neural, emotional and behavioral traits of preschool children are probably not mature enough to reveal variability between boys and girls.

Giada Cordoni stated: «Thanks to an accurate analysis of the video frame by frame we have shown how the yawn contagion, that is the involuntary replication of the motor sequence induced by the vision or listening to a yawn emitted by a partner, occurs during the development of human social and empathic behavior earlier than demonstrated so far, starting from two and a half years of age».

Well, it's true that yawning is contagious. And this also applies to the very young. 

Read also: The yawns of a 4D fetus

  • behavior
  • 1-2 children years
  • psychology of children
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