Neither infants nor toddlers catch yawns from their mothers



Millen AE & Anderson J (2011) Neither infants nor toddlers catch yawns from their mothers. Biology Letters, 7 (3), pp. 440-442.

This study aimed to clarify whether infants and preschool children show susceptibility to contagious yawning, a well-known effect that has been demonstrated experimentally in older children and adults by exposing them to video sequences showing yawns. In a first study, parents kept a log of their child's yawns for a one week period. None of the log entries reported any contagious yawns by the children. Although less frequent than in older children and adults, spontaneous yawning by infants and preschoolers showed the typical morning, post-wakening peak, and an increase before bedtime in the evening. In an experimental study, infants and preschoolers watched a presentation that included many images of yawning and a repeated video clip of their own mother yawning, but there was no evidence of contagious yawning. The results suggest that, even when witnessing yawns by someone with whom they have a strong and positive emotional relationship, very young children do not show contagious yawning.

yawning; contagious yawning; infants; children; video; model; Human body; Human physiology; Yawning; Yawning physiology

Biology Letters: Volume 7, Issue 3

Publication date23/06/2011
PublisherThe Royal Society

People (1)


Dr Ailsa Millen

Dr Ailsa Millen

Lecturer in Psychology, Psychology