Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Psychology (Ph.D.)



First Advisor

William Chaplin

Second Advisor

Wilson McDermut


Emotional recognition is central to social interactions. This study aims to explore the impact of face masks on the recognition of six emotions, including a neutral emotion condition. In addition, the impact of face masks on the well-established superiority of women at emotion recognition is investigated. A total of 135 college age participants (106 women and 29 men) were recruited. Participants were shown five replications of male and female targets exhibiting 6 emotions in masked and unmasked conditions for a total of 120 stimuli, and the six emotions included Anger, Fear, Disgust, Happiness, Sadness and Neutral. After each stimulus was presented, the participants were given a list of the six emotions and asked to choose the one that the target was displaying. The data were collected online using Qualtrics Survey software. For each stimulus the participants' response was scored as correct (1) or incorrect (0) and the responses were summed across the five replications in each condition. This result is a 6(emotion) x 2(Actor Gender x 2 (Masked or Unmasked) x 2(Participant Sex) mixed design with repeated measures on the first 3 factors. Overall, women were more accurate than men at emotion recognition and masking had the expected overall negative effect on emotion recognition, but men were more negatively impacted by masks than women. Accuracy also differed among the emotions with Fear the most accurately detected and Sadness the least. However, men and women did not differ in their relative accuracy across the six emotions (women were always superior). Some additional higher order interactions were also found but these did not change the above overall conclusions about our primary hypotheses.

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