Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

There's a flattering reason why women are twice as likely to catch a yawn than men

ThinkstockPhotos-160494375.jpg

A yawn can travel around a room faster than a biscuit tin, which is quite a feat when you've got the family round.

Now a new study has not only confirmed that yawning is particularly contagious between friends and family, but that women are twice as likely to ‘catch’ a yawn than men.

Rather than pointing to one sex being more impressionable than the other, the new research concludes it's down to women having more empathy.

yawning rex features

She's just got so much empathy

The study, published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, observed participants “in their natural environment” and said the individuals were unaware of being watched.

Over a period of five years, 1,461 bouts of yawning were observed (which sounds low to those of us constantly sucking in oxygen at our desks, but fine) and revealed a difference between the sexes.

The rate of yawn-catching was “significantly lower between acquaintances than between friends and family members, and significantly higher in women than in men. These results not only confirm that yawn contagion is sensitive to social closeness, but also that the phenomenon is affected by the same gender bias affecting empathy.”

Women are believed to have evolved empathy skills beyond men's in line with the traditionally female role of caregiver. According to the team, facial mimicry such as contagious yawning is a behavioural manifestation of empathy.

kim kardashian rex features yawning

Sometimes it's not catching. Sometimes you're just well bored.

Elisabetta Palagi, from the University of Pisa, Italy, who led the research, said of the results: “The degree of social bonding between individuals is important for contagious yawning, but so is gender. These two variables interact with one another to influence whether someone is likely to take part in contagious yawning.

“Women are much more empathic than men in several aspects of their lives and this has a biological basis because women have evolved for maternal care. Our question was: if females are more empathic than males, can we use contagious yawning as an indicator of this empathy? The answer is yes.”

The study concluded: “This result further supports the empathic ground of yawn contagion, in the light of the existing psychological, clinical and neurobiological evidence in favour of higher empathic abilities of women compared with men.”

So there you have it: science has basically confirmed we're simply better people. “No, no, nothing to do with my ill-advised weeknight pub crawl, I think you'll find I'm just really amazing at sharing and understanding the nuanced feelings of others.”

Images: Rex Features / Thinkstock

Related

opener_rt.jpg

How to jet lag-proof yourself inside and out

ThinkstockPhotos-483053740.jpg

New study shows dogs understand human emotions

focus.jpg

Struggling to concentrate at work? You could be a genius

ThinkstockPhotos-177787885.jpg

There's a really simple way to improve your job interview chances

facebook.JPG

How this one “honest signal” on Facebook could affect your career

rexfeatures_3737302e.jpg

Science has good news for women with four or more tattoos

glee-cast.jpg

The ultimate way to bond with people and make new friends

ThinkstockPhotos-122604589.jpg

The one life-changing tip that will help you cope with stress

rexfeatures_4587531b.jpg

Study suggests men only like the idea of dating smart women

Comments

More

Witches are casting a spell on Donald Trump at midnight tonight

It’s set to be “the largest mass binding spell in history”.

by Moya Crockett
24 Feb 2017

This new yoga class is all about the healing power of gin

Empty your mind… and your glass

by Kayleigh Dray
24 Feb 2017

Best friends build community of tiny houses so they can live together

Welcome to bestie row…

by Kayleigh Dray
24 Feb 2017

Behold Ikea's incredible flat-pack indoor garden

Bring the outdoors in

by Sarah Biddlecombe
24 Feb 2017

Successful women “give up” on the idea of work-life balance, says CEO

Grace Bonney, founder of DesignSponge, says that the idea of a work-life balance is “not rooted in reality”.

by Moya Crockett
24 Feb 2017

Woman becomes internet sensation for documenting life as a third wheel

"Love makes the world go round. Unless you're me."

by Sarah Biddlecombe
24 Feb 2017

First Dates is offering us all free food to sit in the background

Couples and singles can both apply

by Kayleigh Dray
24 Feb 2017

The Netflix gems to binge-watch based on your favourite TV shows

These are the unmissable Netflix TV shows you need to know about...

by Kayleigh Dray
24 Feb 2017

Inside Nepal’s forced marriage revolt

When love and tradition collide

by Corinne Redfern
23 Feb 2017

Demi Lovato on her mental health documentary: “I’m bipolar and proud”

The singer opened up about her new mental illness documentary to Ellen DeGeneres.

by Moya Crockett
23 Feb 2017