Background: The need to wear surgical masks in everyday life has drawn the attention of psychologists to the negative effects of face covering on social processing. A recent but not homogeneous literature has highlighted large costs in the ability to recognize emotions. Methods: Here it was investigated how mask covering impaired the recognition of facial mimicry in a large group of 220 undergraduate students. Sex differences in emotion recognition were also analyzed in two subgroups of 94 age-matched participants. Subjects were presented with 112 pictures displaying the faces of eight actors (4 women and 4 men) wearing or not wearing real facemasks, and expressing seven emotional states (neutrality, surprise, happiness, sadness, disgust, anger and fear). The task consisted in categorizing facial expressions while indicating the emotion recognizability with a 3-point Likert scale. Scores underwent repeated measures ANOVAs. Results: Overall, face masking reduced emotion recognition by 31%. All emotions were affected by mask covering except for anger. Face covering was most detrimental to sadness and disgust, both relying on mouth and nose expressiveness. Women showed a better performance for subtle expressions such as surprise and sadness, both in masked and natural conditions, and men for fear recognition (in natural but especially masked conditions). Conclusion: Anger display was unaffected by masking, also because corrugated forehead and frowning eyebrows were clearly exposed. Overall, facial masking seems to polarize non-verbal communication toward the happiness/anger dimension, while minimizing emotions that stimulate an empathic response in the observer.

Proverbio, A., Cerri, A. (2022). The Recognition of Facial Expressions Under Surgical Masks: The Primacy of Anger. FRONTIERS IN NEUROSCIENCE, 16(16 June 2022) [10.3389/fnins.2022.864490].

The Recognition of Facial Expressions Under Surgical Masks: The Primacy of Anger

Proverbio, Alice M.
Primo
;
2022

Abstract

Background: The need to wear surgical masks in everyday life has drawn the attention of psychologists to the negative effects of face covering on social processing. A recent but not homogeneous literature has highlighted large costs in the ability to recognize emotions. Methods: Here it was investigated how mask covering impaired the recognition of facial mimicry in a large group of 220 undergraduate students. Sex differences in emotion recognition were also analyzed in two subgroups of 94 age-matched participants. Subjects were presented with 112 pictures displaying the faces of eight actors (4 women and 4 men) wearing or not wearing real facemasks, and expressing seven emotional states (neutrality, surprise, happiness, sadness, disgust, anger and fear). The task consisted in categorizing facial expressions while indicating the emotion recognizability with a 3-point Likert scale. Scores underwent repeated measures ANOVAs. Results: Overall, face masking reduced emotion recognition by 31%. All emotions were affected by mask covering except for anger. Face covering was most detrimental to sadness and disgust, both relying on mouth and nose expressiveness. Women showed a better performance for subtle expressions such as surprise and sadness, both in masked and natural conditions, and men for fear recognition (in natural but especially masked conditions). Conclusion: Anger display was unaffected by masking, also because corrugated forehead and frowning eyebrows were clearly exposed. Overall, facial masking seems to polarize non-verbal communication toward the happiness/anger dimension, while minimizing emotions that stimulate an empathic response in the observer.
Articolo in rivista - Articolo scientifico
emotions; empathy; face masking; face processing; facial expression; sex difference;
English
Proverbio, A., Cerri, A. (2022). The Recognition of Facial Expressions Under Surgical Masks: The Primacy of Anger. FRONTIERS IN NEUROSCIENCE, 16(16 June 2022) [10.3389/fnins.2022.864490].
Proverbio, A; Cerri, A
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10281/383886
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