Reading the Mind With a Mask? Improvement in Reading the Mind in the Eyes During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Nitzan Trainin, Yaara Yeshurun*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The necessity to wear facial masks in public during the COVID-19 pandemic generated a unique situation where the eyes' importance as a visual source of information about individuals’ mental and emotionalstates greatly increased. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that experience in looking in interlocutor’seyes (as a result of mask-wearing) will be correlated with enhanced performance on “reading the mind inthe eyes test” (RMET). To test this, 87 participants performed an online version of the RMET at 2 differenttimepoints: when the mandatory mask wearing rules were put in place and a month later. We foundthat reported tendency to look at interlocutors' eyes, combined with experience in interacting with otherpeople wearing masks, explained individual differences in RMET performance. Moreover, we found thatindividual’s tendency to look at interlocutors' eyes was correlated with change in performance in readingthe mind in the eyes over this month.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1801-1806
Number of pages6
JournalEmotion
Volume21
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Covid-19
  • Reading the mind in the eyes
  • Real-life experience
  • Theory of mind

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