It’s a common observation among adults that when someone yawns, one is sure to yawn shortly after, otherwise called “contagious yawning.” What about babies? Are they also affected with this? A new study claims that no, babies are not affected by this “yawning phenomenon.”
James Anderson and Alisa Milleon from the University of Stirling reveal that yawning among babies and toddlers is spontaneous. They don’t start succumbing to contagious yawning until they are at least five years old.
Empathy and Mimicry: Probable Triggers of Contagious Yawning The researchers speculate that contagious yawning is partly brought about by feelings of empathy and the act of mimicry, which is developed during a child’s first few years of life. A previous study has shown that contagious yawning fully develops at the age of 12.
Two-Part Study Says Anderson, "People who score highly for empathy are significantly more likely to show contagious yawning. What we know from other research is that one part of the brain that continues to develop through out childhood is the frontal cortex and that the frontal lobes play a role in social decision making and the ability to empathise. That would tie in with the gradual development of contagious yawning during childhood."
To look into contagious yawning, researchers did a two-part study by monitoring the development of contagious yawning among children at different stages of social development.
In the first part of the study, mothers played a part in the study by recording how many times and when their kids would cry.
Click here to learn more about the study regarding contagious yawning among babies.