The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has led significant social repercussions and forced people to wear face masks. Recent research has demonstrated that the human ability to infer emotions from facial configurations is significantly reduced when face masks are worn. Since the mouth region is specifically crucial for deaf people who speak sign language, the current study assessed the impact of face masks on inferring emotional facial expressions in a population of adult deaf signers. A group of 34 congenitally deaf individuals and 34 normal-hearing individuals were asked to identify happiness, sadness, fear, anger, and neutral expression on static human pictures with and without facial masks presented through smartphones. For each emotion, the percentage of correct responses with and without face masks was calculated and compared between groups. Results indicated that face masks, such as those worn due to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, limit the ability of people to infer emotions from facial expressions. The negative impact of face masks is significantly pronounced when deaf people have to recognize low-intensity expressions of happiness. These findings are of essential importance because difficulties in recognizing emotions from facial expressions due to mask wearing may contribute to the communication challenges experienced by the deaf community during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, generating feelings of frustration and exclusion.

Face masks affect perception of happy faces in deaf people

Amadeo, Maria Bianca;Escelsior, Andrea;Amore, Mario;Serafini, Gianluca;Pereira da Silva, Beatriz;Gori, Monica
2022-01-01

Abstract

The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has led significant social repercussions and forced people to wear face masks. Recent research has demonstrated that the human ability to infer emotions from facial configurations is significantly reduced when face masks are worn. Since the mouth region is specifically crucial for deaf people who speak sign language, the current study assessed the impact of face masks on inferring emotional facial expressions in a population of adult deaf signers. A group of 34 congenitally deaf individuals and 34 normal-hearing individuals were asked to identify happiness, sadness, fear, anger, and neutral expression on static human pictures with and without facial masks presented through smartphones. For each emotion, the percentage of correct responses with and without face masks was calculated and compared between groups. Results indicated that face masks, such as those worn due to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, limit the ability of people to infer emotions from facial expressions. The negative impact of face masks is significantly pronounced when deaf people have to recognize low-intensity expressions of happiness. These findings are of essential importance because difficulties in recognizing emotions from facial expressions due to mask wearing may contribute to the communication challenges experienced by the deaf community during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, generating feelings of frustration and exclusion.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11567/1094361
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