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Yawning is contagious - but not always
As researchers from the University of Pisa recently found out during a study, yawning is more contagious the higher the emotional attachment to the other person. People with disorders such as autism and young children are not infected by yawning because they lack the ability to empathize.
Emotional closeness is crucial for infectious yawning
The researchers around Elisabetta Palagi observed 109 adults in their familiar surroundings for a year. In doing so, they deliberately examined women and men from different continents, which included Europe, Asia, Africa and North America. The scientists precisely evaluate 480 actions. This included the angle from which the yawning was observed.
The result of the investigation was the same for all women and men: the emotional closeness to a person has a decisive influence on the unconscious imitation of yawning. This is most pronounced among family members, closely followed by friends and most recently by strangers. Social ties are more important than nationality or gender.
The basic requirement is empathy
Empathy is the ability to recognize and react to other people's emotions, thoughts, intentions and personality traits. Gritli Bertram, a psychologist from Hanover, explains: "Empathy is an important pillar of social behavior." Empathy has not yet developed in young children. They are not infected by yawning. The same applies to people with disorders such as autism. (ag)
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Image: Kathi Strahl / pixelio.de