Yawning is known to be contagious, but a new study has found that there may be a difference in reaction based on gender.
The research focuses on the growing belief that yawns tend to move from one person to another because of empathy.
And because women have been shown to be more empathetic, the team hypothesized that they would also be more responsive to the involuntary action.
To assess this potential link, about 4,000 yawns were secretly observed and documented in various real-world environments such as the office, in restaurants, and at parties over a nearly 5-year period.
The researchers found that both genders tended to yawn spontaneously at about the same rate; however, when it was a copycat situation, women followed suit about 55 percent of the time and men only about 40 percent of the time.
In the experiment, people were also more likely to mimic the behavior if a close friend or family member acted first.
As such, Elisabetta Palagi, one of the authors, has concluded, "The degree of social bonding between individual is important for contagious yawning, but so is gender."
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