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The Power of a Yawn


In every jury trial, the Judge reads instructions of the law to the jury. In Virginia, the Judge reads those at the end of the evidence and right before closings.

One instruction always read in reminds that the verdict is not to be based on sympathy. Still, the power of persuasion can’t be removed because we all are subject to the power of many influences.  That takes me to the outside influence: the power of the yawn.

Every Monday morning we have a Firm attorney’s meeting that starts early. This past Monday, one of the lawyers sat down and I immediately noticed that he looked a bit tired. Within a few minutes of the meeting, he began to yawn.

Even though I was directing the meeting, I still caught myself yawning and I wasn’t even tired. I did the old “look away and fight it”. In fact, as I type this, I almost feel a yawn coming on as I look at that picture next to this. When I saw a recent article on dogs and yawning, I thought that it was blog worthy.

Now there’s science to link Dogs to the yawning power of suggestion. The Washington Post reports that a recent study finds that dogs yawn, even when they merely hear the sound of humans yawning. According to the finding, this constitutes the strongest evidence yet that canines may be able to empathize with us.

The study “recruited” 29 dogs who had been living with their owners for at least six months. During the research sessions, each dog heard recordings of yawns. On average, dogs yawned five times more often when they heard humans that they knew, as opposed to yawns that were not from their owners.

A representative from the Duke University Canine Cognition Center added that from other studies that Duke has conducted, “As in humans, dogs can catch this behaviour by using their ears alone”. Still, everyone in the dog behavior community agrees that just because a dog looks guilty, does not mean that they are feeling guilty.

Just thinking out loud, if I see someone crunching on potato chips, it does make me hungry for chips. Wait a second, that sounds more interesting than blogging on yawning. (Note to self, yawning probably does not help in blog reading alertness).  It does remind me of the old saying, “Be alert, we need more lerts”.


Guess we all empathize

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