We're really loving this
yawn compilation exercise in sympathetic yawn repression. It's a video by filmmaker Daniel Mercadante (titled "Yawns," naturally). Assembled from clips of the best yawn footage the internet has to offer, it may be the most definitive proof ever that yawns are contagious. Seriously — we defy you to sit through this thing without turning into an eye-watering, mouth-gaping mess.
Did you make it? Oh you did, did you? Be honest: were you consciously holding back, or did you genuinely feel no need to yawn? If you're in the latter camp, it may stem from the fact that you don't know any of the yawners in the video. Back in 2011, researchers concluded that people are more likely to respond with a yawn to a family member's yawn than to a friend's yawn. Here's what we wrote about it when the paper was first published:
While "yawn contagion" was shown to be highest between kin, it was still higher between friends than it was between acquaintances, and higher between acquaintances than between strangers - lending credence to the long-standing hypothesis that our predilection to "catching" yawns is a manifestation of our empathetic nature (our tendency to experience empathy follows the exact same pattern of regression).
Those interested can check out the full study free of charge over at PLoS ONE.