Skip to main content

Why is yawning contagious? - Claudia Aguirre


19,594 Questions Answered

TEDEd Animation

Let’s Begin…

*Yaaawwwwwn* Did just reading the word make you feel like yawning yourself? Known as contagious yawning, the reasons behind this phenomenon have been attributed to both the physiological and psychological. It's been observed in children as young as four and even in dogs! Claudia Aguirre visits the many intriguing theories that might explain contagious yawning.

Additional Resources for you to Explore

Can mirror neurons be the basis of human culture and civilization? Learn more about the impact of the human mirror neuron system from TED speaker VS Ramachandran.

Do animals yawn contagiously? Check out this article about puppies. Here's another one about tortoises. One more about chimpanzees.

The real reason we yawn.

Frans de Waal speaks about moral behavior in animals, and he briefly mentions yawning. Check it out.
Next time you're in a meeting, try this little experiment: Take a big yawn, cover your mouth out of courtesy and watch to see how many people follow suit. There's a good chance you'll set off a chain reaction of deep breaths and wide-open mouths. And before you finish reading this article, it's likely you'll yawn at least once. Don't misunderstand, we aren't intending to bore you, but just reading about yawning will make you do it, just as seeing or hearing someone else yawn makes us do it, too.

Here's an article on Huffington Post titled: Facts About Yawning: Why We Do It, Why It's Contagious And More
Michael Stevens of Vsauce also takes a stab at answering the the tough questions: why do we yawn and why is it contagious?

Just for fun, the lesson creators yawned for us:

Next Section »

About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Claudia Aguirre
  • Editor Michael Molina
  • Director Biljana Labović
  • Animation Artist Lisa LaBracio, Godfrey Hibbert
  • Animator Sam Lee
  • Narrator Julianna Zarzycki

More from Getting Under Our Skin