Skip to main content

Face Coverings: Considering the implications for face perception and speech communication

Call for Papers

Guest editors

Dr. Karen Lander – University of Manchester (UK),

Dr. Gabrielle Saunders – University of Manchester (UK),

In response to the global covid-19 pandemic, many governments around the world around the world required (or strongly) recommended the wearing of face coverings (masks) in public spaces – many of these restrictions remain in place today.  While the wearing of face coverings to prevent spread of disease is fairly common in some Asian countries, it seems likely that their use elsewhere will continue, even after the immediate risk of covid-19 subsides.

Face coverings obscure the mouth and nose area of the face, leaving just the eye area exposed. As a result, they limit the information that a listener/observer can obtain from the face. This impacts perception of facial expressions and emotions, as well as access to cues for lip reading. Indeed, wearing a mask is known to conceal cues to human expression recognition (Carbon et al., 2020) and adversely affects human interaction and communication (Saunders et al., 2020; Wild & Korneld, 2021). Wearing a mask muffles the sound of the voice and makes it more challenging to understand speech by covering up cues to speech available from the face (Mheidly, Fares, Zalzale & Fares, 2020). Furthermore, there are reports of difficulties of matching for identity when face coverings are worn (Carragher & Hancock, 2020) and crimes being conducted with face coverings being used a means of disguise (Babwin & Dazio, 2020; Southall & Van Syskle, 2020).  Face masks also present a challenge to computational face and speech recognition systems and algorithms, leading to problems in identity verification and speech recognition (Ngan, Grother & Hanaoka, 2020). 

The proposed thematic series will highlight new work that characterizes the consequences of face masks on (a) the recognition and interpretation of facial expressions and emotions, (b) communication and social interactions, and (c) human and computational identity recognition and disguise. These will be addressed within the broad context of ways in which face perception and communication may change, comparisons of the social impact of face coverings in societies in which they are common versus those in which they are a new phenomenon, and changes in perceived interpersonal communication.

The overall goal is to develop accounts of how and why face coverings influence our face perception and speech communication, with specific attention to the relevant cognitive and behavioural mechanisms, as well as the practical implications and limitations.

If you have questions as to whether your work would be a good fit for this Article Collection, we welcome presubmission inquiries. Please send an abstract and inquiry to one of the Editors.

You can find manuscript submission details at

Submission Deadline: Manuscripts should be submitted before September 1, 2021

CRPI is the open access journal of the Psychonomic Society. Its mission is to publish use-inspired basic research: fundamental cognitive research that grows from hypotheses about real-world problems. As with all Psychonomic Society journals, submissions to CRPI are subject to rigorous peer review.

For manuscripts accepted for the special issue, the publication fee may be fully or partially waived depending on the number of manuscripts accepted for the special issue. The authors should indicate when they submit a manuscript if they are requesting a waiver of the publication fee.

Questions about fees can be directed to the Editor-in-Chief, Jeremy Wolfe,


Karen Lander – University of Manchester

Karen Lander is a Senior Lecturer in the Division of Neuroscience and Experimental Psychology.  Her research examines the perception of faces and considers the importance of individual differences in recognition ability.

Gabrielle Saunders – University of Manchester

Gabrielle Saunders is a Senior Research Fellow at Manchester Centre for Audiology and Deafness, University of Manchester.  Her research examines the psychosocial impacts of hearing loss and approaches to person-centred audiological rehabilitation.

Affiliated with

Annual Journal Metrics