Social Question

john65pennington's avatar

Is yawning just psychological?

Asked by john65pennington (29240points) March 4th, 2012

It was a great day. I walked into a building and entered the elevator for the 2nd floor. This lady was already onboard and as the elevator door closed, she yawned. I asked her. “did you just yawn?” “Yes”, she said. I thought, well there goes the rest of my good day. Sure enough, after departing the elevator, I had my first yawn and it continued for the rest of the day. Question: is a yawn to humans, triggered by another person just psychological or is there something more?

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26 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

I believe that it is one way for the body to sneak in a little extra oxygen.

tom_g's avatar

related article about empathy. And what’s this about brain cooling?

annewilliams5's avatar

Good question-however, I would put this to you. Was it the yawn or your immediate response to it “there goes the rest of my good day”, that fouled your mood? I have yawned while completely relaxed and content, as well as when stressed to the point of distraction. If you were having a great day, shouldn’t that have been your outlook?
Yawning is meant to cause you to breathe a little deeper. Although, I do believe it is “catching”.
One yawn should not a day make.

Sunny2's avatar

It’s definitely contagious. Why, I don’t know. I was in a play, which opened with in a small theater, with me and another character watching over a sleeping princess. I was supposed to yawn several times before the princess awoke. It was great fun to watch members of the audience yawn as they saw me yawning.

ucme's avatar

Watch this & find out, to be fair it didn’t make me yawn, just freaked me out a little.

annewilliams5's avatar

@ucme Ok, now that’s just round the bend.

marinelife's avatar

It has a physical component as well.

john65pennington's avatar

Ucme, if i had watched this yawning cartoon around midnight, I probably would have gotten sleepy and had my first yawn. But, the sun is shining and it presently has no effect on me.

I will keep the cartoon marked for tonight, to give it a try again. Thanks.

annewilliams5's avatar

Yes, the video brought up by @ucme had a physical response. I believe it was fear.
@marinelife Oh you meant the yawning thing. Yeah, I don’t think I’ll be getting much sleep or yawning.

ucme's avatar

@john65pennington If you watch that at night, & then sleep soundly, then you’re a very brave man.

JLeslie's avatar

The way I understand it, yawning being contagious helped our primitive anscestors sleep at the same time, and then travel at the same time. It helps our cycles, circadium rhythm sync up.

I don’t know of that is considered to be a fact, but it sounded good to me.

Coloma's avatar

Yawning LOL
The power of suggestion.

janbb's avatar

First read this as “yearning.”

talljasperman's avatar

I just Yawned…and I’m in another country and in a different time zone.

ddude1116's avatar

Well, science is still completely baffled as to what the purpose yawning serves. They’ve basically debunked the claim it brings in more oxygen, and it is so easily suppressed with absolutely nothing occurring. So it probably is just psychological, yeah, that makes the most sense out of anything.

Berserker's avatar

You yawn when your brain needs oxygen. Although it seems pretty true, sometimes, that if you see a person yawn, you’re bound to do it yourself, even if you’re not bored or sleepy.

JLeslie's avatar

I yawn every time I read a new post on this Q.

Berserker's avatar


MollyMcGuire's avatar

No. I have read several reasons for yawning, but a couple of days ago I heard that it may be a way that the brain cools itself. Admittedly this was a question on either the Millionaire show or Jeopardy, so reliability is suspect.

JLeslie's avatar

@MollyMcGuire I’ve never heard that one. Now, I do know dogs pant to cool off, but humans yawning to cool off? I don’t think temperature affects when I yawn? I haven’t noticed that to be true.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

@JLeslie The answer on the game show was yawning is to cool the brain, not to cool the human body.

JLeslie's avatar

@MollyMcGuire the brain is part of our body.

Coloma's avatar

Did you know that the human head weighs, on average, 13 lbs?
Sooo, I always deduct 13 lbs. for my head when I step on the scale. lol

MollyMcGuire's avatar

@JLeslie This is how wrong information gets started as a fact. It’s to cool the brain, not the whole body. The brain.

JLeslie's avatar

@MollyMcGuire Wrong information? Your brain temperature is the important temperature in your body. The studies done are limited studies, not done with thousands of people. But, ok, I’ll accept the yawn cools the brain. I wasn’t really saying I didn’t, I just had not felt it was my experience. As stated in your article yawn is still contagious, so sometimes people yawn because the guy next to him yawned, thus screwing up the theory a little, and it says it matters what the outside temperature is. So, probably that I lived in FL for so long, and usually hot Memphis, TN, and I tend to be freezing in most rooms, I guess I don’t experience a lot of yawning actually.

annewilliams5's avatar

@Coloma so does this mean that I can too? Deduct the 13 pounds, like when I go to the Doctor, and they weigh me? Or should I just be proud of it?

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