Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
Bridges, N., O'Hanlon L., & Kelly, H.
From Molecules to People
Masking our Communication: Effects of Clear and Surgical Face Coverings on Communication
UCC, Cork
Poster Presentation
Optional Fields
Societal wearing of facemasks became commonplace during COVID-19. Verbal communication requires both auditory and visual cues for successful communication exchange. However, the use of facemasks obscures the mouth removing access to essential visual information which can negatively impact communication. Aims: This study investigated if communication interaction has changed since the introduction of face masks; explored a comparison of clear and surgical face masks in understanding verbal communication, and, the perceived benefits, barriers, and facemask preferences from the perspectives of the general population. Method: An online survey was completed by 193 participants (aged 18-79). Participants watched four videos of male and female speakers, who wore either a clear or surgical mask, and gave opinions regarding each mask type in relation to their use, preference, and communication. Potential associations with gender, age, occupation, and experience of mask type were analysed using Chi-square. Participant comments were analysed using Thematic Analysis. Findings: Most participants (78%) reported a negative change in their communication exchanges since the requirement for wearing face masks was introduced. 64% favoured clear over surgical masks. Participants noted that Comfort (55%), Protection (52%), Availability (51%), Cost (44%) and Fashion (41%) influenced mask choice. Identified themes regarding facemasks included ‘Communication benefits and challenges’; ‘Attitudes towards mask design’, and ‘Potential benefits of clear masks’. Conclusion: Surgical face coverings can negatively affect verbal communication due to the mouth being covered. Clear facemasks have the potential to circumvent this challenge, although participants reported a hesitancy in adopting these facemasks due to an unappealing mask design.