Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society

, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 211–214

Faces as releasers of contagious yawning: An approach to face detection using normal human subjects

  • Robert R. Provine

DOI: 10.3758/BF03334587

Cite this article as:
Provine, R.R. Bull. Psychon. Soc. (1989) 27: 211. doi:10.3758/BF03334587


The yawn-evoking potency of variations in a 5-min series of 30 videotaped repetitions of a yawning face were compared with each other and with a series of 30 videotaped smiles to determine the ethological releasing stimulus for the fixed-action pattern of yawning and to understand the more general process of face detection. Animate video images of yawning faces in several axial orientations evoked yawns in more subjects than did featureless or smiling faces, and no single feature, such as a gaping mouth, was necessary to evoke yawns. The yawn recognition mechanism is neither axially specific nor triggered by an isolated facial feature.

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Copyright information

© The Psychonomic Society, Inc. 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert R. Provine
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Maryland Baltimore CountyBaltimore