A team of researchers from the Woman-mother-child department from the Lausanne University Hospital and the Institute for Higher Education and Research in Healthcare, led by Dr. Myriam Bickle Graz, pediatrician in the Neonatology Department, wanted to understand how children recognise the emotions of "masked" adults.
This study, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, was carried out in day-care centers of the district of Lausanne with 276 children, and showed that 3-6 year old pre-schoolers are able to recognize anger, joy and sadness, despite facemasks.
In this study, children without developmental problems were presented with pictures of actors with and without masks expressing an emotion. The children were able to identify the emotion accurately in 2/3 of the cases. The emotions of the masked faces were more difficult to recognize, but only to a small extent. Myriam Bickle Graz says: "Our results show that children have a great capacity for adaptation that should not be underestimated”. The results confirm that emotion recognition is slightly worse on masked faces. But this difference, although statistically significant, is small, with an overall difference of 4%."