Yawning Is More Contagious Between Good Friends and Family, Scientists Say

In a relationship? Yawning much? Maybe you're just tired of each other.

Yawning isn't just a sign of sleepiness, say Italian scientists at the Natural History Museum in Calvi. It's also a form of emotional transmission, like a kiss or a smile or a hug.

After watching 100 adults for a year, researchers discovered that the closer you are to someone genetically or emotionally, the more likely it is that you'll 'catch' their yawn. This is one of the many examples that human and animals connect to each other, researchers say. Just like smiling, yawning is an infectious emotional expression, especially among friends.

Sure, you yawn when you're tired. But what about when you're tired of someone? Researchers think that if time passed between the yawns of two people points to their closeness, then counting the minutes between yawns may become a new test of the state of a relationship.

The research may also have some significant clinical implications: If yawning is a social cue between empathic people, could yawning contagion become a way to assess social deficit disorders?