‘Nine out of ten people in your area pay their tax on time.’ *
We are in many ways still pack creatures. We act as a herd. We obey certain social norms. We fit in.
And we like to copy people around us. We like to do what they do.
When someone near you yawns, you often find yourself stifling a yawn a few seconds later. No one knows why yawning is ‘contagious’ but it’s easier to catch if we feel emotionally connected to the person yawning – relatives first, then friends, then strangers. There are suggestions as to why we catch yawns – to help synchronise sleeping patterns as a pack, to put us all into the same mood, to show empathy – but no one knows why this behaviour is quite so social.
Studies have showed that even dogs catch yawns from humans – they will yawn and settle down if we do, but they’re not fooled if we only open and close our mouths. Younger dogs don’t catch the yawns in the same way – it’s only over 7 months old that the puppies begin to copy us. *(Have fun practising on your dog today!)
Such social behaviour is vital even now. The code of morals and expectations we all agree on keeps the fabric of society together. We still yearn to be part of the pack.
* Behavioural Insights Team report