Difficult to Recognize: Insights about Recognizing Masked Faces

Some people might find it difficult to recognize the insights in this new study about whether people find it more difficult to recognize faces that are obscured by masks:

The COVID-19 pandemic masks the way people perceive faces,” Erez Freud, Andreja Stajduhar, R. Shayna Rosenbaum, Galia Avidan, and Tzvi Ganel, Scientific Reports, vol. 10, no. 22344, 2020. The authors, at York University, Canada, Rotman Research Institute, Canada, and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel, explain:

“The unprecedented efforts to minimize the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic introduce a new arena for human face recognition in which faces are partially occluded with masks. Here, we tested the extent to which face masks change the way faces are perceived…. As expected, a substantial decrease in performance was found for masked faces…. [We] provide novel evidence for quantitative and qualitative alterations in the processing of masked faces that could have significant effects on daily activities and social interactions.”

(Thanks to Scott Langill for bringing this to our attention.)