Shocker: Researchers determine face masks mask our ability to recognize people


(ISRAEL) — It might not have taken a team of scientists to confirm this, but with everyone around you wearing a face mask because of COVID-19, it’s pretty hard to recognize people you know. 

However, that’s just what researchers from Israel’s Ben-Gurion University have determined, following an international study. “For those of you who don’t always recognize a friend or acquaintance wearing a mask, you are not alone,” their research confirms.

While the masks are vital to help stop the spread of infection, they also hamper a person’s ability to recognize someone by 15% — and Prof. Tzvi Ganel, head of the Laboratory for Visual Perception and Action at the BGU Department of Psychology says that percentage is likely higher.

Prof. Galia Avidan, an expert on facial recognition and perception at BGU notes, “This could lead to many errors in correctly recognizing people we know, or alternatively, accidentally recognizing faces of unfamiliar people as people we know.”

He adds, “Face masks could be even more challenging to people whose face recognition skills are not ideal to begin with and cause greater impairment.”

Ganel implies that the end result could be more serious than just not spotting that guy from your softball team right away. “Given that mask wearing has rapidly become an important norm in countries around the globe, future research should explore the social and psychological implications of wearing masks on human behavior,” he says.

Incidentally, Saturday Night Live recently aired a musical sketch that decried how hard it is dating nowadays, seeing as you can’t see the bottom half of that potentially special person’s face.


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