Seth Pollak, PhD – Slide of the Week

Seth Pollak, PhD - Slide of the Week

Title: Children’s Emotion Inferences from Masked Faces: Implications for Social Interactions During COVID-19

Legend: Linear regression and means for emotion x trial and covering x trial interactions. The dotted line indicates chance responding (1/6). Confidence intervals (95%) were estimated with bootstrapping (1,000 bootstrap estimates resampled 81 times from mean participant accuracy).

Citation: Ruba, A. & Pollak, S. (2020). Children’s emotion inferences from masked faces: Implications for social interactions during COVID-19. PLOS ONE, 15(12), 1-12. PMCID: PMC7757816

Abstract: To slow the progression of COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have recommended wearing face coverings. However, very little is known about how occluding parts of the face might impact the emotion inferences that children make during social interactions. The current study recruited a racially diverse sample of school-aged (7- to 13-years) children from publicly funded after-school programs. Children made inferences from facial configurations that were not covered, wearing sunglasses to occlude the eyes, or wearing surgical masks to occlude the mouth. Children were still able to make accurate inferences about emotions, even when parts of the faces were covered. These data suggest that while there may be some challenges for children incurred by others wearing masks, in combination with other contextual cues, masks are unlikely to dramatically impair children’s social interactions in their everyday lives.

About the Lab:

Research projects in The Child Emotion lab are focused upon children’s emotional development and the relationship between early emotional experience and child psychopathology. We are particularly interested in understanding two related aspects of emotional development:

  • What are the mechanisms of normal emotional development?
  • To what extent are emotions shaped by nature and nurture?
  • Does it make sense to try and separate biology and experience?
  • How are emotions related to the development of psychopathology in children?
  • Might the development of emotional processes help explain the link between people’s early experiences and later development of psychological difficulties?

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