Institute of Art Design + Technology
Dún Laoghaire

Gemma Clabby 

BSc [Hons] Applied Psychology

My name is Gemma Clabby. I have just completed the BSc (Hons) in Applied Psychology at IADT. In the future, I endeavour to progress into Clinical and Health Psychology as a researcher or Clinical Psychologist. My main interests are in suicide prevention, bereavement, trauma-informed therapy and health psychology. My postgraduate goal is to continue to build my experience in these areas before I progress into a Masters Programme. My undergraduate major research project 'The Effect of Covid-19 Mask-wearing and Gender on Emotion Recognition Accuracy' is outlined below.

Project Overview

The outbreak of the Covid-19 virus in the twenty-first century led to one of the deadliest pandemics ever recorded. Its virulent pan-global spread has been observed and disseminated in forensic scientific detail unlike any other. As a global practice in the prevention of Covid-19, mask-wearing may effect communication. Previous research is limited but suggests that mask-wearing reduced emotion recognition accuracy. Additionally, there is a lack of research examining emotion recognition accuracy based on gender differences in viewed faces.

Project Description

The Effect of Covid-19 Mask-wearing and Gender on Emotion Recognition Accuracy

This project aimed to investigate the effect of mask-wearing and gender of viewed faces on emotion recognition accuracy. The study employed a quantitative, between groups, online experimental design. Analysis was conducted using two Mann-Whitney U non-parametric tests. The study collected data from 245 Irish participants between 18-71 years of age. A short demographic questionnaire followed by a multiple-choice Emotion Recognition task completed by each participant. An online survey platform was utilised to collect the quantitative data. This task involved each participant viewing facial stimuli which expressed emotions both wearing masks and not wearing masks. Participants spontaneously assessed the depicted person’s emotional state. The analysis used the case sample (N=16) of facial stimuli presented to each participant.

Project Findings

There was no significant difference in emotion recognition accuracy between the mask-wearing conditions (with mask, without mask). Additionally, there was no significant difference in emotion recognition accuracy between genders. The findings contradicted previous research, however, they may be of particular interest to front line workers for whom masks and PPE and accurate communication are essential.