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Can Your Yawn Say Something About Your Relationships?

Can Your Yawn Say Something About Your Relationships?

You’re sitting across from your significant other at dinner and let a huge yawn escape. A few seconds later … nothing. They don’t yawn back. Is that a red flag?

We’ve all heard that yawning is contagious—but does it go deeper than that? It does according to science writer Sam Kean. Humans “don’t pick up contagious yawning until 4 or 5,” he writes in his upcoming book The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons, “implying that we need to develop certain parts of the brain first, probably related to social skills and empathy.”

He may be on to something. Research at the University of Pisa discovered that your yawn is especially contagious if you yawn in front of close relatives like parents, siblings and children. But as day-to-day familiarity and empathy decline, so do returned yawns. When you yawn around close friends, the number of yawns you’ll get back goes down. And the numbers dwindle even more in front of strangers, with your yawn losing most of its contagiousness.

Timing is also important—the research found that yawns are returned more quickly the closer you are to someone. Kean even wonders “if you could tell someone was falling out of love with you by timing their yawn delay.” Well, perhaps, but if you’re starting a stopwatch every time you yawn in front of your partner, perhaps things aren’t going so well in the first place.


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Read more: Dating, Friendship, Fun, Life, Love, Relationships

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Diana Vilibert

Diana Vilibert is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn. You can find her at, or tweet her at @dianavilibert.


+ add your own
12:24PM PDT on Aug 16, 2014

Great article

4:13AM PDT on Aug 14, 2014

Thank you

12:54PM PDT on Jul 4, 2014

My opinion of this article is: SILLY!

9:06PM PDT on Jun 25, 2014


9:03PM PDT on Jun 25, 2014


4:56AM PDT on Jun 21, 2014

topic is kinda stale

10:21AM PDT on Jun 6, 2014

thank you.

9:30AM PDT on Jun 1, 2014

Thanks for sharing

2:15PM PDT on May 27, 2014

you yawn to cool your brain.

7:00AM PDT on May 19, 2014

Interesting. Thank you.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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people are talking

Oh please. There's some painfully obvious facts here (eat less, move more) wrapped up in shoddy jour…

What a beautiful dog.

Vegan is not only cruelty free - it is the most socially responsible eating regime to adopt.

thanks, we all need to think about how much we waste

Cute. Thank you for sharing.


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