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Billboard's Clever Message Is Highly Contagious

May 31, 2015 By Christi Mulligan
Yawning is contagious, and maybe that was something you knew already. But why? A recent study suggests that yawning in response to someone else's yawn is a form of social bonding and empathy. A fetus in the womb will begin to yawn as early as 11 weeks post conception, according to Robert Provine, a neuroscientist at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. However, children do not develop responsive yawning, a deeply rooted behavior, until around the age of 4. Even more, children with autism might never develop this behavior because they lack that basic level of empathy, a recent study found.

Much like contagious crying and laughing, scientists have theorized that yawning is a shared experience that promotes social bonding. And specifically, this bonding could help to diffuse stress and spread a feeling of calm.
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