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February 08, 2022 Tuesday 01:45:25 PM IST

Who is it behind the mask?

Teacher Insights

When the pandemic partially clouded up the faces by introducing masks, people failed to recognize the faces that hid behind them. The use of face masks led to a reduction in face recognition abilities. Focusing on the eyes alone may be insufficient for some emotional inferences. When facial configurations are ambiguous or subtle, adults (and children) shift their attention between the eyes and other facial features that may provide additional diagnostic information. 

According to a new study led by York University, children are having difficulty recognizing faces that are partially covered by masks. This could potentially impact social interactions with peers and educators, as well as the ability to form important relationships. The research shows children’s face-perception abilities are not only profoundly impaired when people are masked, but their level of impairment is greater than that experienced by adults. The study also revealed children process faces differently when the face they are looking at is masked, compared to one that’s not. Their ability to holistically process faces, which is necessary for face perception, was disrupted and became more analytical. The study revealed that if holistic processing is impaired and recognition is impaired, there is a possibility it could impair children’s ability to navigate through social interactions with their peers and teachers, and this could lead to issues forming important relationships.

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