New Research: Why Yawning Means I Love You

Screen shot 2013-08-12 at 10.05.13 AM“What does my dog think about me?” is a question that many dog owners — including us — have wanted to know. The Dognition games use a large base of published academic research to give users enriching details on many aspects of their dog’s mind. A brand new study out of the University of Tokyo in Japan has added even more support to the sizeable evidence behind one of the most talked about Dognition games, the Yawn Game.

In the Empathy dimension of the Dognition games, owners play a yawning game with their furry friend in which they yawn and see if their dog yawns back. This game is one of a series of games that give owners insight on their dog’s bondedness and empathy.

In the study, published August 7th 2013, the researchers added to the existing evidence that dogs do in fact yawn in response to human yawns and that yawns are more common in more bonded dog-owner pairs, all the while controlling for stress yawns. The study grows the established support behind the subject of empathy and yawning.

Many people don’t realize how exciting of a topic contagious yawning is. Contagious yawning is well established as a behavior that encourages empathetic connection in humans. The empathy that we feel towards each other is thought to be one of the factors that enabled us to start forming large social groups, the early predecessor of organized civilizations and cultures. It may have been just this behavior that allowed dogs and humans to form bonded social groups as well. Next thing you know, our two species are almost inseparable!

Check out this NBC article on the subject:

Still interested? The summary and full paper can be found for free here.