Humans mirror other’s behavior, usually without being aware of it. If we talk to someone and agree with what they’re saying, we tend to mirror their stance. That is, if one person crosses their legs, the other is bound to follow. If one person rests their chin in their palm or crosses their arms, the other person will probably do the same.
This is why yawns spread too. If one person in a group yawn, the urge to do the same thing is almost impossible to overcome.
Dogs do this too. A 2013 study shows that dogs are likely to “catch” their owner’s yawns. They’re more likely to do it if it’s a real yawn – they don’t care as much about fake yawns, or about strangers doing it.
People who score high on empathy tests are more likely to mirror others’ behavior – and mirror yawns – than people who aren’t as empathetic. Scientists now think dogs’ mirroring our behavior might prove their ability to empathize with us. Any dog lover might agree on their furry friend’s ability to share our emotions, but society as a whole might soon have evidence.