Reading This Will Make You Yawn
Sometimes, even thinking about yawning will make you yawn. And when the person next to you does it, forget about it -- you'll yawn, too. With all this talk about yawning, in fact, you've probably already yawned.
"A yawn is an instinctive behavior: You don't have to learn to do it, and yawns are even present before birth," says Robert Provine, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Is the myth that yawns are actually contagious true?
"When one person in a group yawns, over half of the people in the group will yawn within five minutes, and the rest will at least be tempted to yawn," says Provine, who has been researching yawning for more than 20 years. "What is surprising is that virtually anything having to do with yawning triggers a contagious reaction."
Provine explains that while yawning is highly contagious, so are other human behaviors, like laughter, and this reaction is actually very normal -- and ancient.
"When you see someone else yawn, you don't think to yourself, 'Well, I'll yawn, too," says Provine. "It just happens -- it's instinctive, and it's a very primal aspect of human behavior that goes back to ancient herd mentality."