Monday, 18 July 2011
It has always fascinated me how yawning is such a social activity. If one person yawns in the proximity of others, it travels. A pass the parcel of yawns if you like. I often wonder why this is.
As I have always understood it, the yawn is a reflex designed to get more oxygen into the bloodstream in order to counter tiredness. The blood flow slows down as our bodies and minds become tired so we need more.
But yawning as a social phenomenon is, as far as I can tell from my (somewhat limited) research, as yet unexplained. The theory goes that contagious yawning harks back to primitive data stored in our genetic makeup. Past experience of living in a herd, and living as a social being in harmony with others, seems to still manifest itself as a social yawn.
That does make me wonder what else is lurking under the surface of our consciousness. Is a yawn the only remainder of a more brutal and primitive past or is there more lurking beneath the surface?