We examined how mask use affects performance and eye movements in face recognition and whether strategy change reflected in eye movements is associated with performance change. Eighty-eight participants performed face recognition with masked faces either during learning only, during recognition only, or during both learning and recognition. As compared with the baseline condition where faces were unmasked during both learning and recognition, participants had impaired performance in all three scenarios, with larger impairment when mask conditions during learning and recognition did not match. When recognizing unmasked faces, whether the faces were learned with or without a mask on did not change eye movement behavior. Nevertheless, when recognizing unmasked faces that were learned with a mask on, participants who adopted more eyes-focused patterns had less performance impairment as compared with the baseline condition. When recognizing masked faces, participants had more eyes-focused patterns and more consistent gaze transition behavior than recognizing unmasked faces regardless of whether the faces were learned with or without a mask on. Nevertheless, when recognizing masked faces that were learned without a mask, participants whose gaze transition behavior was more consistent had less performance impairment as compared with the baseline condition. Thus, although eye movements during recognition were mainly driven by the mask condition during recognition but not that during learning, those who adjusted their strategy according to the mask condition difference between learning and recognition had better performance. This finding has important implications for identifying populations vulnerable to the impact of mask use and potential remedial strategies. Copyright © 2022 The Author(s).
CitationHsiao, J. H.‑W., Liao, W., & Tso, R. V. Y. (2022). Impact of mask use on face recognition: An eye-tracking study. Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, 7. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1186/s41235-022-00382-w
- Face recognition
- Face mask use
- Eye movement