banner
You are not using a standards compliant browser. Because of this you may notice minor glitches in the rendering of this page. Please upgrade to a compliant browser for optimal viewing:
Firefox
Internet Explorer 7
Safari (Mac and PC)
Press Release
Why yawning is contagious in bonobos
Friday, November 16, 2012


Yawning is contagious in bonobos. Credit: Elisa Demuru

Being socially close to another bonobo is more likely to make bonobo apes yawn in response to the other's yawns, according to research published November 14 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Elisabetta Palagi and Elisa Demuru from the University of Pisa, Italy.

The researchers found that yawning in bonobos is more contagious when individuals are strongly bonded to one another as kin or close friends. They also found that yawn contagion was higher when individuals were more relaxed, but occurred in every context when the first yawner was a senior member of the group.

Previous research has found similar results in humans, showing that a person is more likely to yawn when family or close friends do, rather than in response to a stranger's yawning. Though this social component of yawn contagion is well-known, its origins and significance are still being studied.

Yawn contagion may be a way for social groups to unconsciously communicate and coordinate activities, but unlike other forms of unconscious communication, has a unique emotional component, since it appears to occur more frequently between closely bonded individuals. The authors say, "Though we are still far from a clear demonstration of a link between yawn contagion and empathy, the importance of social bonds in shaping this phenomenon in bonobos suggests that a basic form of empathy may play a role in modulating yawning behavior."

###

Public Library of Science: http://www.plos.org



Thanks to Public Library of Science for this article.

This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.



This press release has been viewed 435 time(s).

Comments
No comments recorded.
Add Comment?
Comments are closed 2 weeks after initial post.
Friends