Kids described the correct emotion more than 70% of the time when the actor was maskless and got it right more than 67% of the time when the figure wore a mask. The older the kids, the more answers they got correct. About a quarter of preschoolers had a harder time distinguishing sadness from anger and about 21% occasionally confused joy for anger or sadness.
“Actual face masks depicted in static pictures were significantly associated with emotion recognition in healthy preschool children, although differences were small and effect sizes were weak,” lo studio ha detto.
Ashley Ruba, a developmental psychology expert in the Child Emotion Lab at University of Wisconsin-Madison, was not affiliated with this study, but has done similar work during the pandemic. She said she saw similar results with her work.
“Even with masks being worn, little kids can probably still make reasonable inferences about other people’s emotions,” Ruba said. “I like to point out that the face isn’t the most important way we communicate our emotions, it is only one way. We also use tone of voice, we have body posture, we have other kinds of contextual clues that kids and adults can use to figure out how people are feeling.”
For language processing, it is important for kids to learn to lip read, but it’s clear from the research, lei disse, that a mask is not going to hurt a child’s development.
“The risks of contracting Covid from not wearing a mask are probably going to outweigh any slight issue about communication that kids might have,” lei disse.
As a developmental psychologist, she thinks there are many more aspects of the pandemic that could hurt a child’s development, like from the social isolation they’ve had from peers when they’ve had to stay at home from school or if a parent were to lose a job, per esempio.
“Masks are probably at the bottom of the list of things to be concerned about,” lei disse.