Why Yawning Is More Contagious for Women
According to biologists at the Natural History Museum in Pisa, Italy it’s for a noble reason – women may have more empathy.
Based on five years of direct observation they found thatmirroring another's yawn happens more often between friends and family than strangers, and more often for women than men.
The researchers gathered data from 2010 to 2015 on humans in the wild – that is, in offices, train stations, over dinner, and during social events. They discovered rates of yawning to be highest among strongly bonded subjects. Couples, friends, and family were more likely to yawn in tandem than acquaintances or strangers.
They also found rates of transfer to be higher in women. Men “caught” a yawn on 40 percent of occasions, while women did so nearly 55 percent of the time.
Studies looking at differences in empathy also suggest women are more sensitive than men to others’ emotions and so more likely to mimic certain facial expressions. In light of the existing evidence, then, the team says their study “further supports the empathic ground of yawn contagion.”
So if a woman yawns in your presence, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are boring her – it could be that she just understands you.
Don't miss this week's Slice of History: Longest Surgery: Feb.4-8, 1951