Friday, August 9, 2013

Sympathetic yawning

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You know when someone yawns close to you and you just have to do it too?

Humans mirror others' behavior, often without being aware of it. If we talk to someone and agree with what they're saying, we tend to mirror their stance. That is, if one person crosses their legs, someone else is bound to follow. If one person rests their chin in their palm or crosses their arms, the other person might mirror it. The same thing goes for yawns. One person yawns and the urge to do the same thing is impossible to overcome.

Turns out dogs do it too. A new study shows dogs are likely to "catch" their owner's yawns. They're more likely to do it if it's a real yawn - they don't care as much about fake yawns, or about strangers doing it.

So, what's the big deal? Well, people who score high on empathy tests are more likely to mirror other's behavior - and mirror yawns - than people who aren't as empathetic. Scientists now think dogs' mirroring our behavior might point to an ability to empathize with us. While any dog lover might agree on their pooch's ability to share our emotion, society in general might soon have evidence.

~ Maria Sadowski

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