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Dogs catch human yawns

Joly-Mascheroni, Ramiro M. and Senju, Atsushi and Shepherd, Alex J. (2008) Dogs catch human yawns. Biology Letters 4 (5), pp. 446-448. ISSN 1744-9561.

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2008.0333

Abstract

This study is the first to demonstrate that human yawns are possibly contagious to domestic dogs (Canis familiaris). Twenty-nine dogs observed a human yawning or making control mouth movements. Twenty-one dogs yawned when they observed a human yawning, but control mouth movements did not elicit yawning from any of them. The presence of contagious yawning in dogs suggests that this phenomenon is not specific to primate species and may indicate that dogs possess the capacity for a rudimentary form of empathy. Since yawning is known to modulate the levels of arousal, yawn contagion may help coordinate dog–human interaction and communication. Understanding the mechanism as well as the function of contagious yawning between humans and dogs requires more detailed investigation.

Item Type: Article
Keyword(s) / Subject(s): yawning, contagious yawning, dog, empathy, social cognition
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Science > Psychological Sciences
Depositing User: Administrator
Date Deposited: 16 Dec 2010 14:57
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2013 12:33
URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/2562

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