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"A herd that yawns together stays alert together"
May 23, 2012 7:11 AM   Subscribe

Why Is Yawning Contagious? [SLYT]

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posted by quin (22 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
rick rolled again!
posted by k5.user at 7:12 AM on May 23, 2012


¦ O
posted by slater at 7:13 AM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wonder if the RØDE microphone company paid for a little product placement in that clip.

Excellent use of the haveyouyawnedyet tag, and yes, I yawned about 4 times during the video.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:21 AM on May 23, 2012


Because puppies.
posted by Gator at 7:23 AM on May 23, 2012


That was a real yawner.
posted by caclwmr4 at 7:34 AM on May 23, 2012


It's nice to know I'm apparently really empathetic. ¦( )
posted by Peevish at 7:34 AM on May 23, 2012


I thought I'd mention that the other day I yawned, and then my DOG yawned. CROSS-SPECIES YAWN CONTAGIOUSNESS.

My exciting life.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 7:40 AM on May 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I yawned when I read the FPP.

This is not a clever comment on the level of engagement provided by the post- I haven't even read the link. I literally yawned upon reading the question "is yawning contagious?"

So, yes, it is. Or I am really tired.
posted by blahblahblah at 7:46 AM on May 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


So yawning is used more or less to keep us alert, and it's contagious to keep the herd alert... which in modern times is only really useful in making sure that the whole group doesn't fall asleep while watching a movie.
posted by pwally at 7:54 AM on May 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Studies have shown that people yawn less when they have prosthetic foreheads on their real head.
posted by Obscure Reference at 7:59 AM on May 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


One thing this video taught me is that I have a immediately skeptical reaction to the phrase "research has shown," even if there's nothing especially dubious or questionable about the forthcoming claims. I'm not sure from where precisely this came about, though I'd expect it's a conditioned response from frequently then being fed misrepresented, erroneous, or unreliable science after hearing these words.
posted by Algebra at 8:02 AM on May 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I thought I'd mention that the other day I yawned, and then my DOG yawned. CROSS-SPECIES YAWN CONTAGIOUSNESS.

Cross-species empathy.
posted by HumanComplex at 8:02 AM on May 23, 2012


Studies have shown that people yawn less when they have prosthetic foreheads on their real head.

Yes. That's why you'll see less yawning here in Japan.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:07 AM on May 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


There is actually a few Science News articles I wanted to link to in response to this, but they are behind pay/subscriber walls so...

First, essentially all theories of why we yawn are still pretty firmly in the "we think this may be the answer but we don't really know" stage.

and secondly, yep yawns can be contagious cross species.
posted by edgeways at 8:31 AM on May 23, 2012


yawns can be contagious cross species.

i let out a yawn, and then so did my cat
it's really quite common, we often do that
then the neighbor's old dog, who was crossing the yard
he yawned wide, and then the security guard
who lives down the block, well, he yawned as well
which made his pet snake yawn (snake's scary as hell)
and the yawn from the snake caused a yawn from a bird
and that bird yawn triggered an antelope herd
to all yawn as one, which was seen by a goat
who yawned toward a man sailing by in a boat
and his yawn, it spurred a big yawn from a cow
there by the river, and people, by now
this circle of yawns had come back to me
so i yawned once again, and then went for a pee
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:53 AM on May 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Long before it was thought to be
Brain’s craving for more oxygen
Or is it a subtle way of expressing

Lack of interest in the proceeding?
Quick to infect the gathering
Seems to have many a sibling

Looking at the ‘yawner’ one is sure of
Picking up the relay and passing on the baton
Continuing the chain to the chagrin of the

Expectant audience awaiting the outcome

Mannar
posted by edgeways at 9:31 AM on May 23, 2012


dunno why, but i really enjoyed that still of a yawning parakeet.
posted by fuzzypantalones at 10:07 AM on May 23, 2012


yawns can be contagious cross species.

Maybe not with tarsiers:
Marissa Ramsier of Humboldt State University in California and her colleagues were puzzled to sometimes hear no sound when Philippine tarsiers (Tarsius syrichta) opened their mouths as if to call. Placing 35 wild animals in front of an ultrasound detector revealed that what they assumed to be yawns were high-pitched screams beyond the range of human hearing.
If you yawn when your tarsier yawns, you might just be exhibiting indifference to its extreme agitation rather than showing any empathy at all.
posted by fredludd at 11:03 AM on May 23, 2012


As I have tried to explain before, yawning is "contagious" because it is how we adjust the internal air pressure inside our heads to match outside air pressure. Like how yawning helps your ears "pop" during ascent or descent in an airplane. So when someone yawns they equalize external and internal pressure but of course that minutely changes the outside pressure, so now everyone else has to yawn to adjust their internal pressure and on and on.

(Last time I wrote this someone apparently thought I was serious and made sure to correct me.)
posted by zoinks at 12:25 PM on May 23, 2012


Didn't Mythbusters do a bit on this? I forget -- I think I got tired and fell asleep during that episode...
posted by LordSludge at 12:31 PM on May 23, 2012


I wonder if he went and got a coat halfway through to make it easier to yawn at the end of the video.
posted by aniola at 3:01 PM on May 23, 2012


This elderly dog does a likable couple of yawns as he snuggles his best bud, an elderly cat.
posted by nickyskye at 10:10 PM on May 23, 2012


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