Young Children Display Contagious Yawning When Looking at the Eyes | OMICS International | Abstract
ISSN: 2375-4494

Journal of Child and Adolescent Behavior
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Research Article

Young Children Display Contagious Yawning When Looking at the Eyes

Michelle Hoogenhout*, Kirsten van der Straaten, Lea-Ann Pileggi and Susan Malcolm-Smith

Applied Cognitive Science and Experimental Neuropsychology Team,,Department of Psychology, University of Cape Town, South Africa

*Corresponding Author:
Michelle Hoogenhout
Applied Cognitive Science and Experimental Neuropsychology Team
Department of Psychology, University of Cape Town
Rondebosch, 7701, South Africa
E-mail: [email protected]

Received Date: January 30, 2013; Accepted Date: February 28, 2013; Published Date: March 04, 2013

Citation: Hoogenhout M, van der Straaten K, Pileggi LA, Malcolm-Smith S (2013) Young Children Display Contagious Yawning When Looking at the Eyes. J Child Adolesc Behav 1:101. doi:10.4172/2375-4494.1000101

Copyright: © 2013 Hoogenhout M, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Although contagious yawning occurs commonly in adulthood, previous studies reported it to be uncommon in children below 4-5 years. However, these studies did not regulate eye contact, a factor that can induce contagious yawning. We therefore investigated whether a cue to make eye contact would influence contagious yawning, particularly in young children. Fifty-six children between the ages of 3 and 16 watched video clips of models either yawning or opening their mouths. Contagious yawning was observed from the age of 3 years, and was negatively correlated with age. Whereas children older than 8 years caught yawns only after the yawning clips, children under the age of 8 years yawned contagiously following both yawn and control clips. Additionally, frequent imitation occurred in children below the age of 8 years. Poor general attention skills or reduced attention to specific facial features (e.g. the eyes) may be responsible for the reduced yawn contagion previously described in young children.