Are yawns and hiccups pscyhosomatically contagious or are they just independent reflexes?

I've always been told growing up, "yawns are contagious" or "you gave your hiccups to me." Is there any truth to yawns and hiccups be pscyhosomatically contagious? As in our body subconsciously sees a yawn and mimics it because the brain needs oxygen and yawns bring oxygen???

But for hiccipus... I don't understand. I know its a reflex of the diaphragm, but I don't know why suddenly our body would do that if we weren't eating or drinking. What benefits are there to hiccuping?

1 Answer 1


Yawns are "contagious" in that other people (and even dogs) often yawn in response to seeing someone else yawn. The reason people yawn is unclear, but it is thought to have evolved to serve a physiological need, but changed to serve mainly a social function in the animals that exhibit it. This is supported by the fact that yawns are not contagious to autistic children.

Hiccups are caused by a reflex, and have not been shown to be "contagious" this way; their co-occurrence is coincidental. However, because hiccups can be caused by eating quickly or laughing, which people like doing in a group, co-occurrence may be a little likelier than purely random.

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