Date Awarded

Spring 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.Sc.)




Joanna Schug

Committee Member

Cheryl Dickter

Committee Member

Adrian Bravo


With increased face mask usage globally following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to understand factors that influence mask wearing behavior. One factor that may influence mask wearing behavior is the degree to which they potentially impair emotion recognition. Previous research that has suggested that there may be cultural differences in facial regions that people in Japan and the United States attend to when inferring a target’s emotional state, whereby Japanese are more likely to look to the eyes and Americans are more likely to look at the mouth (Yuki et al., 2006 & Jack et al., 2012). Based on this prior research, we predicted that facial coverings concealing the mouth region would serve to impair emotion recognition, whereas in Japan facial coverings that conceal the eye region would serve to impair emotion recognition more so than for Americans. In Study 1, we examine whether people in Japan and the United States expect that they would have difficulty understanding others’ emotional expressions when the target wore a facial mask, or sunglasses. The results showed that Japanese participants reported higher mask wearing willingness and mask wearing norms compared to Americans. Additionally, results indicated that Americans reported higher perceived difficulty in emotion recognition when targets are wearing a face mask, while Japanese reported the reverse effect. In Study 2, we examined actual recognition rates, and found that while there were only small country differences in the degree to which mask-wearing impaired emotion recognition, Japanese emotion recognition was more impaired by sunglasses. We discuss implications and directions for future research.



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Available for download on Monday, May 20, 2024