A study conducted by US-based scientists have found that young people are more prone to catching another person’s yawn than older people.
The study, published in the journal Plos One, asked 328 participants to watch a three-minute video showing other people yawning.
They were then asked to click a button every time they yawned.
Overall, 68% of the participants yawned. Of those, 82% of people aged 25 or younger yawned, compared with 60% of people aged between 25 and 49, and 41% of people aged more than 50.
Scientists are now studying whether the ability to catch yawns from other people is inherited, as they hope it will help treat mental health disorders.
People suffering from autism and schizophrenia are less likely to catch yawns, researchers argued, so analyzing the genes that might code for contagious yawning could create potential treatments.
“This is the first study to look at a whole bunch of factors. It is the largest study, in terms of the number of people involved, to date,” said lead researcher Dr Elizabeth Cirulli in a statement.