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The Science of Why Yawning is Contagious


Ever wonder why you can’t fight the urge to yawn once someone around you has done it? A new book by Robert R. Provine called “Curious Behavior” examines just that – curious behaviors, such as yawning.

The book covers everything from laughing and tickling, to hiccupping and vomiting, to sneezing and itching… etc. One of the most interesting topics includes the yawn – a social contagion (any social or physical phenomena that spreads quickly to others).

Provine explains that it’s not the simple act of opening your mouth that triggers others to yawn, it’s our “neurological yawn detector responds to the overall pattern of the yawning face, including the squinting eyes, and not a particular facial feature.”

For more information on the book and the “science” of why yawning is contagious, take a look at Provine’s interview with the Wall Street Journal.


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