Saturday, 9 June 2012

WHY ARE YAWNS CONTAGIOUS?

Art for art's sake? I should think so, and more so than ever at the present time. It is the one orderly product which our middling race has produced. It is the cry of a thousand sentinels, the echo from a thousand labyrinths, it is the lighthouse which cannot be hidden...it is the best evidence we can have of our dignity.

Here are several things we can be thankful are not contagious:

drooling
nosebleeds
itching
seizures
farting

That said, there are several theories for what causes yawns and why they are contagious. It was originally thought that people yawned to get more oxygen, but this appears not to be true.

The most common theory is behavioral. In an article examining contagious yawns, Dr. Steven M. Platek and others state, “Contagious yawning may be associated with empathic aspects of mental state attribution and are negatively affected by increases in schizotypal personality traits much like other self-processing related tasks.”

Huh? I find myself yawning right now.
What they mean is that people are unconsciously imitating others when they yawn. Humans are not the only species that yawn. Yawning is seen in many animals, including cats, fish, and birds, although we don’t know what a yawning fish looks like either.

There is the falsely mystical view of art that assumes a kind of supernatural inspiration, a possession by universal forces unrelated to questions of power and privilege or the artist's relation to bread and blood. In this view, the channel of art can only become clogged and misdirected by the artist's concern with merely temporary and local disturbances. The song is higher than the struggle.