Why do people yawn unnecessarily loudly?

Nonverbal signals and the recognition of personality

It takes two years to learn to speak
and fifty to learn to be silent.
Ernest Hemingway


german / d_lingu / pragm /
pragm_nonvkom_txt_2.htm (03-12-15)

Argyle, Michael (2002): Body Language and Communication. Paderborn: Jungfermann.

Some personality traits generate immediately and involuntarily and without intention of notification non-verbal signals, e.g. E.g. a nervous person trembles and sweats, or people from different regions or social classes speak with a specific accent. However, these non-verbal signals become more or less controlled and modified, whereby some people can use the same signals in a targeted manner to emphasize certain features or to present an "improved" version of themselves. The Self-image or "I-identity" refers to how a person understands himself. The Personality core usually consists of his name, body feelings, overall physical impression, gender and age. The core also contains characteristics such as social class or religion, particularly outstanding achievements and other things that distinguish one person from others.

As Goffman (1956) pointed out, in order to be able to deal with one another properly, people need information about the characteristics of the other. It is difficult to get a direct grasp of the intelligence or social class, and so gestures are used. H. to signals that are associated with such properties, i.e. clothing, linguistic expression, etc. Goffman believes that people develop a consensus on mutual ideas about each other in the course of interaction and that self-expression is like a theater play. The self-image is not always active, however, because one does not constantly signal something about oneself. This only happens in situations that Goffmann called an "on-stage appearance": when you appear for a lecture in front of an audience, when you practicing his profession as a doctor or salesman when a young woman is accompanied by a young man, when one meets an older or higher-ranking person. In these situations you will try to reveal some aspects of your self-image, some rather to hide it. The self-portrayal is motivated differently: In the teaching profession one tries to appear competent so that the pupils accept the instruction. Some cultivate one image of physical attractiveness or of high social status, because they like the social relationships that this makes possible.

If one observes another's behavior, he will attribute it partly to his particular personality and intentions, and partly to the usual conditions of the situation. Studies have shown that one ascribes one's own behavior or that of a friend to the situation, while with strangers one thinks that their behavior is mainly due to their personality. See also the Theory of Attribution - Locus of Control

You form impressions of other people, view them as consistent and consistent, and refer to them as "introverted", "happy", "not intelligent" etc. However, this is a common misconception as everyone behaves differently because sometimes you're introverted, sometimes extroverted, sometimes dominant, sometimes submissive. The impression that other people are consistent comes from the fact that they are usually seen in the same role and situation, and then from the fact that the observer himself is a repetitive and reinforcing one Interaction patterns evokes. The superior does not see his subordinates when they are relaxing at home - therefore many situations, for example at celebrations or company outings, are revealing to embarrassing.

Personality traits influence non-verbal communication in different ways and can therefore be used as one Source of information look at. even if there is no intention to notify. Body size and figure, the structure of the face and characteristic properties of the voice are not encoded signals. Nevertheless, they can have meanings because certain sizes and figures are preferred or because it is believed that they are associated with a certain behavior. Physique can, to a limited extent, be the result of a lifestyle; just think of the appearance of a tanned, muscled man on the beach. Careful observation of commercials can be very instructive here, because such patterns are used in these to arouse certain associations with products.

However, the non-verbal signals that inform about the personality can be used to a considerable extent control be exercised. Anyone who has a tendency to be afraid will not deliberately reveal this, but rather try to hide it. But those who see themselves as intellectual, diverse, well traveled or as a rebel against society will express this image to others as far as possible. What he will express depends on the self-image he has developed, on the constructs that shape his opinion about it, and on the uncertainty of this self-image and the consequent need for confirmation from others.

Yawning a sign of empathy?

The Risk of contagion Research has shown that yawning also depends on the excitability of part of the cerebral cortex, namely the motor cortex that controls deliberate movements. Contagious yawn is thus a Echo phenomenon, whereby echo phenomena also play a role in certain diseases such as epilepsy, dementia, autism or Tourette's syndrome, because a connection with the excitability of the cerebral cortex has also been established in these diseases. It has been observed that people with depression do not yawn or yawn less than healthy people and that they yawn more frequently after taking antidepressants. This could be due to the fact that depressed people suffer from high internal tension, while yawning is more associated with drowsiness. Incidentally, the yawn pressure increases as soon as yawning is to be suppressed, because if you offer resistance, try to suppress an urge, then this is only really noticeable.

Whoever feels observed while yawning tries to suppress the yawn or at least to hide it behind the hand, which can be found across all cultures. European etiquette of the Renaissance recommend it as well as the codes of honor of the samurai, whereby it was not only about politeness and not showing bad teeth, but rather about the fear that demons might invade the body when yawning. According to studies at the University of New York, understanding and compassionate people are primarily encouraged to yawn by yawning fellow men. Psychologists had test subjects look at video recordings of people yawning and noted how often the test subjects had to yawn as well. In addition, the scientists carried out psychological personality tests. Those people who were immune to yawning fellow human beings found it difficult to empathize with others, while people who yawned frequently could intuitively grasp the mood of their counterpart. Yawning together evidently unconsciously creates the opportunity to identify with others and to ally. People with a schizophrenic personality disorder were not encouraged to yawn at all, because with this disease patients have problems to understand the feelings and moods of others (Nature). Incidentally, after a study on students People with psychopathic properties infected less by yawning than sensitive people, d. In other words, the less empathy or empathy a person has, the less they yawn (Rundle et al., 2015). However, it is problematic to generalize such a study to students who were presented with yawning videos. According to recent research by the University of Pisa, the emotional closeness to a person is crucial for yawning, because it is most common in the family, then among friends, then with acquaintances and only at the very end with strangers. Obviously, empathic connections are crucial when yawning.

Even if the Act of yawning looks very similar in all people, the causes are often as diverse as the functions. The yawning, which usually lasts around six seconds and often happens several times in a row, is caused by changes in the Brain chemistry triggered, and shows that there is a very complex system behind it and that yawning presumably has many different functions. One study found two brain receptors that trigger and stop yawning. The receptors that play a role in conveying information work with dopamine. Dopamine levels are highest in the morning, which could explain why people often yawn when they wake up. There are also other receptors that trigger yawning, such as those that respond to opioids, which may explain why heroin addicts yawn so much when trying to get off the drug.

Even 30 percent of people who do one for five minutes Article about yawning read, reported they yawned themselves, reports Robert Provine, University of Maryland psychologist in American Scientist, 93, p. 532. He has been researching the phenomenon for many years. One problem in research is that you cannot ask test subjects to come into the laboratory and yawn, because it does not work on request or command.

People yawn when falling asleep and when waking up, they yawn from boredom, but also from tension, soldiers in combat and athletes before the competition do it. It's not because of the lack of fresh air, however. Provine had a group of test subjects breathe stale CO2-enriched air and a control group pure oxygen. There was a lot of yawning. A recent hypothesis suggests that Yawns serve to cool the brain (Evolutionary Psychology, 5, p. 92). Similar to computers, the brain also works better at lower temperatures, whereby a jaw that is stretched by yawning improves the blood flow to the brain and provides a cooling effect. The exchange with the surrounding air is also important, because the time of year plays an important role in the frequency of yawning. In a study (Gallup & Eldakar, 2011), 45 percent of the study participants yawned in winter with average temperatures of 22 degrees Celsius, whereas in summer at 37 degrees it was only 24 percent. Obviously, an environment that is about the same warmth or warmer than the human body stimulates yawning less than lower temperatures, because when it is hot, yawning has no cooling effect on the brain.

The fact that people yawn when they see others yawn is relatively recent in evolutionary terms, because Newborn learn it only in the first year of life. The fact that human babies do not allow themselves to be infected speaks against the fact that the brain cells (mirror neurons) that specialize in imitating movements are behind this phenomenon. It is probably more about a learned social signal, i.e. yawning is not imitating or empathizing, rather it is a message that runs through a group and holds them together and signals that there is no danger. Autistic are not infected by yawning, as Atsushi Senju from the University of London reports in Biology Letters (3, p. 706).

Animals usually don't yawn, just Chimpanzees get infected, possibly also macaques, highly social monkeys. Annika Paukner (University of Stirling) played them pictures of conspecifics who either yawn or grimace in some other way. The sight of yawning made people yawn more often (Biology Letters, December 7).

Dogs yawn to calm themselves down, but also to appease fellow dogs or humans. Senju has in the laboratory dogs examined and told them something: they were infected with a time delay of one and a half minutes, but at a high frequency: 72 percent of the cases yawned, which is a higher percentage than among humans (45 to 60 percent) and chimpanzees (33) . As a control, the researchers played other lip movements to the dogs, but these were not imitated.

Cats also yawn as a greeting and thus ensure a relaxed get-together, d. In other words, yawning also serves as a reassurance or appeasement gesture that is intended to appease a communication partner.

Also Budgies yawn when they are tired, but it also occurs with them in other situations, because if they are petted below the ear opening, this triggers a mechanical stimulus. However, the yawning of their fellow species infects them.

Rabbits yawning after waking up and stretching, whereby the yawning is probably an act of jumping over, because if the animal is insecure, it tries to calm itself down with it, especially if it doesn't know whether to flee or stay.

snakes By the way, they don't yawn at all, because with this mouth opening they only straighten their jaws again. Especially after eating, the animals use it to straighten their jaws and organize the chewing apparatus, as it was often extremely stretched when devouring the prey.

Oddities to yawn

If the temperature of the brain deviates only minimally from its ideal temperature of 37 degrees Celsius, reaction time slows down and memory performance deteriorates. A straightened jaw also improves blood flow to the brain and thus provides a cooling effect. Incidentally, there is a lot more yawning in summer than in winter, regardless of whether you go to sleep, when you wake up, out of boredom or when you are tense. American psychologists (Gallup et al., 2016) have discovered that in various mammals, the longer the yawning lasts on average, the greater the number of nerve cells in the cerebral cortex and the weight of the brain. It is concluded from this that yawning might promote cognitive brain functions by increasing blood flow and cooling to the organ of thought. For each of the 24 animal species examined, they used information on the number of neurons in the cerebral cortex as well as the average brain weight and yawning times of 177 individuals (one second in mice and rats up to a maximum of six seconds in humans). With increasing brain size and increasing number of neurons in a species, both the duration of the yawn and the fluctuation range of this period of time increased. Primates yawned for an average of 4.5 seconds. It is therefore believed that yawning affects the blood supply to the brain, contributes to cooling and thereby stimulates the activity of the cerebral cortex, so that animals with larger and more complex brains may require longer yawning.


Gallup, A.C. & Eldakar, O.T. (2011). Contagious yawning and seasonal climate variation. Front. Evol. Neurosci. 3: 3. doi: 10.3389 / fnevo.2011.00003.

Gallup, Andrew C., Church, Allyson M. & Pelegrino, Anthony J. (2016). Yawn duration predicts brain weight and cortical neuron number in mammals. Biol. Lett. , dos: 10.1098 / rsbl.2016.0545.

Langenbach, Jürgen (2005). Did you yawn today? The press from 10.12.
http://science.orf.at/stories/1688144/ (11-09-20)

Rundle, Brian K., Vaughn, Vanessa R. & Stanford, Matthew S. (2015). Contagious yawning and psychopathy. Personality and Individual Differences, 86, 33-37.

Scratching is also contagious


Holle, H., Warne, K., Seth, A.K., Critchley, H.D., & Ward, J. (in press). The Neural Basis of Contagious Itch and Why Some People are more Prone to it. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

Serova, Dina (2018). Bare figures: multifunctional nudity in private graves of the Old Kingdom (pp. 241–260). In Verbovsek, A., B. Backes & J. Aschmoneit (eds.), Function / s: Material culture - language - religion. Contributions from the 7th Berlin Young Egyptian Working Group (BAJA 7), December 2nd – December 4th, 2016, Wiesbaden.

Stangl, W. (2021). Keyword: 'Hiccup'. Online encyclopedia for psychology and education.
WWW: https://lexikon.stangl.eu/26908/schluckauf/ (2021-01-24)

Whitehead, Kimberley, Jones, Laura, Laudiano-Dray, Maria Pureza, Meek, Judith & Fabrizi, Lorenzo (2019). Event-related potentials following contraction of respiratory muscles in pre-term and full-term infants. Clinical Neurophysiology, 130, 2216-2221.

http://www.kurenundwellness.tv/ blog / 2009/08 / body-signals-interpretation-of-eyelid-twitching-hiccups-palpitations-and-sun-sneezes / (09-08-04)

Some people feel itchy themselves as soon as they watch someone scratch, because just observing the scratching activates the regions of the brain that are also switched on when they are doing their own thing. However, not all people are equally susceptible to this, because studies have shown that test subjects generally felt more itchy after watching a video in which someone scratches themselves than when watching a video in which a person knocks. More than 60 percent got itchy and scratched themselves at least once while watching the videos. Those who felt particularly severe itching scratched themselves most frequently, with scratching the left upper arm in particular causing severe itching when observing. It is also believed that people with high levels of neuroticism are particularly prone to infectious itching, while particularly empathetic people are not overly prone to infectious itching.

Other involuntary body signals and what triggers them

A Eyelid twitch, in which an eyelid or even fine muscles on the outer eyelid begin to flutter, happens completely involuntarily. This occasional eyelid twitching in some people is therefore not necessarily a cause for concern, even if it lasts for even a day. The phenomenon of the twitching eye is comparable to the hand falling asleep or the tingling sensation down to the fingertips when the elbow hits something, because a nerve was irritated by the sudden pressure. In the case of the eyelid, this means that a blood vessel in the brain is pulsing because, for example, the blood pressure has risen due to fatigue, stress or excitement and the blood vessel has touched a nerve coming from the brain. Since nerve tracts directly on the brain are particularly sensitive, this small impulse from a pulsating blood vessel is enough to stimulate them. Usually the irritated nerve causes the lower eyelid muscle of one eye to twitch. If this twitching occurs not only in one place on the face, but in several at the same time, and on top of that almost daily or more often, then this is no longer the normal eye twitching, but it can be one Hemifacial spasm (disturbed nerve-vascular contact) act, which is physically harmless, but very stressful for those affected, for example if one is constantly asked about the twitching eye. Incidentally, the stress hormone can also help adrenaline be responsible, the cause being stress or lack of sleep.

hiccup, a reflex of the diaphragm. usually arises when you have eaten or drank too quickly, when the food or drink is too cold or a stomach that is too full. This can be remedied by drinking water, a spoonful of sugar or pressing the tongue firmly against the roof of the mouth. in the Womb And even after birth, babies are known to be plagued by hiccups, with premature babies in particular spending an average of fifteen minutes a day with them. Possibly an important function is hidden behind this, because according to Whitehead et al. (2019) a wave of Brain signals that could help you learn to regulate your breath. Measurements of brain activity in newborns showed that the contractions of the diaphragm muscle during hiccups produce a pronounced response in the cerebral cortex, with a total of three brain waves with each burping, the last of which is believed to be caused by the sound. It is believed that this is how the brain of a newborn baby can combine the sound of hiccups with the sensation of muscle contraction in the diaphragm. So the activity that results from hiccups can help the brain learn how to monitor the breathing muscles so that breathing can eventually be controlled by deliberately moving the diaphragm up and down. Building a network like this is a critical milestone in the development of newborns. It had previously been discovered that kicking babies in the womb was likely to create mental images of their own bodies. The researchers believe that the same thing happens to the internal body when hiccups occur, so they consider adult hiccups to be a relic from infancy. Evolutionary evidence was found in connection with the study of the genome of lung fish, which are believed to be the transition from fish to mammals. It is well known that lung breathing is controlled by the nerve pathways from the brain stem to the diaphragm. In fish, these neural connections are less susceptible to interference, as they only run as far as the gills. On the other hand, animals with lungs and gills, such as tadpoles, had to develop a mechanism that enables gill breathing without flooding the lungs. The hiccups could therefore be a remnant of the breathing process used by tadpoles and other amphibians, because the breathing process is completely different with these, because they force water through their gills into their mouths, thereby blocking the way to the windpipe and thereby preventing it that water enters their lungs. (Stangl, 2021).

Stomach growling is a sign that digestion is working well. The stomach, as a hollow muscle, mixes the food and transports it on, for which it presses itself bit by bit in a ring. If he pushes a little more air, this sound is created.

Sun sneeze occurs when you look into the bright blue sky or into a bright lamp. The reason for this is the position of the extensions of the optic nerves and the olfactory nerves, which are so close together that strong stimuli can jump from the eyes to the olfactory conduction.

Symbolic communication

Under a symbol one understands quite generally a perceptible sign or symbol (object, action, process) that is representative of something imperceptible (also thought or believed). In a narrower sense, a symbol is representative as a written or pictorial symbol with an agreed or immediately understandable meaning that is used for an abbreviated or pictorial identification and representation of a term, object or situation. A symbol can be associated with a special connotation and / or indicate / express a deeper meaning, whereby symbols often have a strong effect on the subconscious and thus influence the behavior of people, so that symbols often trigger spontaneous emotional reactions that have arisen through previous conditioning .

The Eipo in New Guinea convey information to the guests about the preparations for the visiting festival with the help of symbols. About two months before the festival, the guests receive the noose symbol. It says that the hosts' men are now on their way to catch the game with snares. A few days before the festival, the guests are given the fern as a sign that the wives of the hosts are now collecting and preparing the fern vegetables. Two days before the start of the festival, the guests receive bamboo knives to indicate that the meat is being prepared.

Actually, these symbols are superfluous from a pragmatic-functional point of view, because a common language is available and the messenger of the symbols could also convey the messages verbally. However, the symbols give the message a stronger expression. The hosts commit themselves to the mythical and religiously and socially significant sacred tradition of the role of host.

Other forms symbolic communication can be found at the signal value of dress and jewelry, the self-representation of ethnicities and nations through flags, buildings, etc.


Individual differences

We differ greatly in the intensity, dynamism, agitation, and extent to which we use non-verbal means to communicate what we feel and think. On the one hand there are people who are highly expressive, expressive. They gesticulate very clearly, use intensive accentuation, underline what is said in a very clear way with the help of arm and hand movements and intonation. On the other hand, we know people who tend to behave rather weakly. They use very little, if any, gestures and facial expressions and bodies for emotional expression. We are talking about individually different expressiveness. Such differences are closely related to empathy, compassion, professional success, personal experience and self-control, and physical and mental health.

Expressivity can also be described as the ease with which feelings, sensations, thoughts can be read from a person's non-verbal behavior when they are not busy communicating their feelings to others (DePaulo and Friedman 1998, p. 13). Expressive people belong to those people whose feelings can be captured quite well with the help of a video recording of their facial expressions. Particularly noteworthy is the high intra-individual consistency of expressivity. That is, it is a relatively stable personality trait.

Expressivity is closely related to a number of other personality traits. These include extroversion, dominance, impulsiveness, enterprising spirit and popularity (op. Cit.). Expressiveness has a very strong influence on social encounters, when entering a room, when greeting, or when initiating a conversation. The first impression that expressively oriented people make tends to be positive. As a rule, this increases in the course of encounters compared to non-expressive people. On average, expressive people are also more popular than less expressive people. Conversely, non-expressive people find it difficult to deal with expressive people, they tend to avoid such encounters.

Expressive people are also considered to be comparatively more attractive. Obviously, due to their more open nature, they have a cheaper look, which gives the overall impression of greater attractiveness. However, attractive people have probably also received more positive social feedback from the start. This makes it easier to be more confident, open, positive and less controlled when dealing with people. Previous studies also suggest that expressiveness is at least as important for creating positive social relationships as attractiveness. When it comes to first impressions, expressivity is even more important.

Expressive people attract attention and, on the other hand, arouse more expressive behavior and empathy. Their greater popularity is also due to their greater openness, their greater interest in others, with their more spontaneous and relaxed self-expression. In social situations they therefore often set the tone and influence the overall mood, the atmosphere of the encounter, in a disproportionate way.

As is well known, people do get it at the first sight of a face a first impression, whereby to a large extent certain facial shapes and features decide whether a viewer assesses a person as trustworthy, attractive or dominant. Tom Hartley et al. (2014) used 179 characteristic points to transfer faces from social media into a computer graphic. These drawn model images were then evaluated. A total of 65 features, such as the width of the eyebrows, the shape of the mouth area or the position of the cheekbones, could explain 58 percent of the assessments of faces. From various assessments of respondents about a person whose picture could only be seen for 100 milliseconds, three factors were created: accessibility, dominance and youthfulness / attractiveness. Each factor was associated with numerous facial features, but the strongest associations were predominantly concentrated in a few parts of the face. So those were considered special accessiblewhose mouths were perceived to be the largest and most open, that is, who smiled or laughed most clearly. As youthful and attractive Above all, people with large eyes, narrow, curved eyebrows and a wide lower lip were perceived. Dominant on the other hand, faces with masculine features and relatively dark skin appeared.

Body language in dance

According to scientific research, this also reveals Dance style a man so much about him, whereby not only women can watch what they have to expect here, but also rivals learn a lot from the dance style of the other. A study has shown that fast and varied movements are rated positively and that these men are considered to be particularly strong or muscular, with sweeping, fast and varied movements being particularly important in order to make impression. Obviously, not only women unconsciously understand these signals, but also watching men are equally capable of getting an accurate picture of rivals, probably in order to judge the strength of the other before a possible conflict.

Expressiveness and professional success

Research in clinics showed that doctors with greater expressiveness are more popular with patients than their less expressive colleagues. Expressive doctors have more patients and their patients are happier with them (Friedman et al. 1980; DiMatteo 1979). Similar things were found in relation to car salesmen; those with greater expressiveness have greater sales successes (Friedman et al. 1980).

Emotional expressivity is related to psychological adjustment. However, this connection is not straightforward and straightforward. The decisive factor here does not seem to be the degree of expressiveness, but the relative harmony with the emotional processes. That is, people who would like to express their feelings but are unable to do so are equally in conflict as are people who express their feelings but would prefer to keep them to themselves (King and Emmons 1991 ). Both groups of people have more or less psychological difficulties.

Stress processing and disease relevance

People with low expressivity are, on average, more susceptible to various diseases as a group. Shallow affects are a sign of schizophrenia. The accumulated expression of feelings is an indication of schizoid disorders. Manic-depressive disorders are also closely related to emotional expressiveness and control. Nonverbal expressivity deficits are still an explicit criterion for diagnosing autism.

Pronounced expressivity and the tendency to make generous gestures when dealing with others are often an indication of health (DePaulo and Friedman 1998, p. 14). In contrast, clenched fists and explosive acceleration of speech tend to indicate an unhealthy personality. However, a lack of expressivity is not always an indication of illness or susceptibility to illness. Because a lack of expressivity can also be an expression of a calm, content and reserved attitude. However, non-expressivity is problematic when it is the result of depression, suppressed anxiety, and depersonalization.

A certain amount of expressiveness is considered to be beneficial in our society. Attempts by people who are viewed as under-expressive or judged by others to be under-expressive are sometimes inclined to increase their expressiveness in order to increase their popularity, professional success, and so on. However, this is usually only possible to a limited extent.

We remember Al Gore, who ran for the US presidency in 2000, but then narrowly failed. Actually, as a longtime Vice President, he had had very good opportunities to win over the US population. But the public felt that his wooden style was a major drawback. People felt that Gore was acting like a feeble bureaucrat.

There was simply no spark between Gore and the population. Even his intensive efforts for more expressiveness and special relaxation training did not bring the hoped-for change in mood among the population. Just as expressive people find it difficult to reduce their emotional expression, i.e. to keep it flat, non-expressive people find it very difficult to express more expressivity. Non-expressive people trying to be expressive are by no means as expressive as actual expressive people. The reverse is also true: expressive people who try to significantly dampen their emotional expression appear unnatural and mannered.

In a study (Katz and Camphell 1994), students were subjected to a test to measure ambivalence about their emotional expression. They then kept a diary for two weeks in which they recorded the stress they experienced and the mental and health condition they were in.After that, they continued to undergo testing for psychological and health well-being.

It found that with increasing ambivalence, increasing stress, and increasing negative mood, general psychological well-being decreased. Accordingly, there is no fixed connection between well-being and expressiveness.

Both non-verbal styles can be beneficial or disadvantageous. The specific social context is decisive. In general, however, it can be said: the greater the experienced ambivalence about the level of expressivity, the more likely it is that negative experiences are associated with it.

See also Lying, deceiving and covering up