Face Mask Super-Recognisers (Free to read Royal Society article here)

Updated: Apr 6

School of Human Sciences

Face and Voice Recognition Lab

Institute of Lifecourse Development

University of Greenwich




Twitter: @GRecognisers

Royal Society Open Science new paper: The effect of face masks and sunglasses

Thank you very much to all participants who took part in our June 2020 project exploring the effect of face masks and sunglasses on identity and expression recognition with super-recognisers and typical observers.

This collaborative paper has now been published in Royal Society Open Science and is accessible on the link below.

Noyes, E., Davis, J. P., Petrov, P., Gray, K. L. H., Ritchie, K. (2021). The effect of face masks and sunglasses on identity and expression recognition with super-recognizers and typical observers. Royal Society Open Science, 8, 201169. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.201169

Face masks present a new challenge for human face identification and emotion recognition in Western cultures. We tested the effect of masks and sunglasses on identity and emotion recognition. Both masks and sunglasses reduced accuracy, with most errors for masks, but overall there was little difference in performance with masks compared to sunglasses.

Super-recognisers, people with exceptional face recognition ability, were impaired by masks and sunglasses, but as a group performed more accurately than controls. Our results suggest that face masks do not present much more of a challenge than sunglasses, a face covering that we are all familiar with.

This research indicates super-recognisers still have an excellent ability for face recognition even when face coverings are present. This is an important point to consider as many individuals are now wearing face masks in everyday life.

The University of Huddersfield produced a press release for this article:


Thank you again to everyone who took part in this study, we are very grateful for your time and continued support.