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      Surgical face masks impair human face matching performance for familiar and unfamiliar faces

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          Abstract

          In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many governments around the world now recommend, or require, that their citizens cover the lower half of their face in public. Consequently, many people now wear surgical face masks in public. We investigated whether surgical face masks affected the performance of human observers, and a state-of-the-art face recognition system, on tasks of perceptual face matching. Participants judged whether two simultaneously presented face photographs showed the same person or two different people. We superimposed images of surgical masks over the faces, creating three different mask conditions: control (no masks), mixed (one face wearing a mask), and masked (both faces wearing masks). We found that surgical face masks have a large detrimental effect on human face matching performance, and that the degree of impairment is the same regardless of whether one or both faces in each pair are masked. Surprisingly, this impairment is similar in size for both familiar and unfamiliar faces. When matching masked faces, human observers are biased to reject unfamiliar faces as “mismatches” and to accept familiar faces as “matches”. Finally, the face recognition system showed very high classification accuracy for control and masked stimuli, even though it had not been trained to recognise masked faces. However, accuracy fell markedly when one face was masked and the other was not. Our findings demonstrate that surgical face masks impair the ability of humans, and naïve face recognition systems, to perform perceptual face matching tasks. Identification decisions for masked faces should be treated with caution.

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          G*Power 3: A flexible statistical power analysis program for the social, behavioral, and biomedical sciences

          G*Power (Erdfelder, Faul, & Buchner, 1996) was designed as a general stand-alone power analysis program for statistical tests commonly used in social and behavioral research. G*Power 3 is a major extension of, and improvement over, the previous versions. It runs on widely used computer platforms (i.e., Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Mac OS X 10.4) and covers many different statistical tests of the t, F, and chi2 test families. In addition, it includes power analyses for z tests and some exact tests. G*Power 3 provides improved effect size calculators and graphic options, supports both distribution-based and design-based input modes, and offers all types of power analyses in which users might be interested. Like its predecessors, G*Power 3 is free.
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            The many faces of configural processing.

            Adults' expertise in recognizing faces has been attributed to configural processing. We distinguish three types of configural processing: detecting the first-order relations that define faces (i.e. two eyes above a nose and mouth), holistic processing (glueing the features together into a gestalt), and processing second-order relations (i.e. the spacing among features). We provide evidence for their separability based on behavioral marker tasks, their sensitivity to experimental manipulations, and their patterns of development. We note that inversion affects each type of configural processing, not just sensitivity to second-order relations, and we review evidence on whether configural processing is unique to faces.
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              Calculation of signal detection theory measures

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                danieljcarragher@gmail.com
                Journal
                Cogn Res Princ Implic
                Cogn Res Princ Implic
                Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications
                Springer International Publishing (Cham )
                2365-7464
                19 November 2020
                19 November 2020
                December 2020
                : 5
                : 59
                Affiliations
                GRID grid.11918.30, ISNI 0000 0001 2248 4331, Psychology, Faculty of Natural Sciences, , University of Stirling, ; Stirling, FK9 4LA Scotland, UK
                Author information
                http://orcid.org/0000-0003-2265-4737
                Article
                258
                10.1186/s41235-020-00258-x
                7673975
                33210257
                b82e5401-e974-40e4-a1b5-34beedcfaa3e
                © The Author(s) 2020

                Open AccessThis article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

                History
                : 23 June 2020
                : 18 October 2020
                Funding
                Funded by: FundRef http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100000266, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council;
                Award ID: EP/N007743/1
                Award Recipient :
                Categories
                Original Article
                Custom metadata
                © The Author(s) 2020

                face recognition,identity verification,familiarity,deep neural network,signal detection theory

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