Everyday behavior is fascinating:
And yet much of science focuses on subjects like supermassive black hole winds; sewer systems in Ancient Rome; and using nanotechnology to build batteries—skipping over what might be most interesting to the everyday person. Consider yawning. Just reading the word might be sufficient to hijack the body, as you slowly open your jaws, squint, and take a long breath before a brief exhale. Yawning seems to be an inappropriate topic of scientific inquiry. But it isn't.
No matter how beautiful you are, no matter how beautifully you dress, no matter how many friends you have—nobody looks cool when they yawn. This is just my opinion, but what is cool is the work of scientists who have devoted years to investigating the nature of yawning to help us understand this underappreciated human behavior.
Here are eight discoveries about yawning courtesy of these curious scientists:
Science provides a way to understand the ordinary, peculiar, and extraordinary aspects of human behavior. Let us appreciate everything that makes us human. Here’s hoping that more scientists (and citizen scientists) choose to conduct humble experiments on everyday behaviors to discover new knowledge—and share it with us.
Dr. Todd B. Kashdan is a public speaker, psychologist, and professor of psychology and senior scientist at the Center for the Advancement of Well-Being at George Mason University. His new book is The upside of your dark side: Why being your whole self—not just your “good” self—drives success and fulfillment. If you're interested in arranging a speaking engagement or workshop, visit toddkashdan.com