Presentation (Project) Title

The Effect of Face Masks on Task Performance: An Experiment

Mentor Information

Lisa Penney (Muma College of Business)

Presentation Format

Event

Abstract

We are in the middle of a global pandemic, and despite clear recommendations from experts with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) to wear face masks, many people refuse to comply. Politics aside, some people complain that face masks are annoying, distracting, and reduce their efficiency. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether wearing a face mask actually increases negative affect, discomfort, and lowers the speed and quality of task performance in the wearer via an online experiment. Participants were recruited through snowball sampling via social media to participate in an online study wherein they were asked to complete a survey, an online typing speed test, and then self-report levels of negative affect and discomfort experienced during the typing test. Participants were randomly assigned to either receive instructions to wear a face-covering of their choosing for the duration of the study or to complete the study without wearing a face mask. Of 139 total participants, only 61 provided usable data. No significant differences between the experimental and control group were found on any of the dependent variables. Explanations for these findings, including low statistical power and methodological limitations due to the virtual nature of the study, as well as recommendations for future research, are discussed.

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The Effect of Face Masks on Task Performance: An Experiment

We are in the middle of a global pandemic, and despite clear recommendations from experts with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) to wear face masks, many people refuse to comply. Politics aside, some people complain that face masks are annoying, distracting, and reduce their efficiency. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether wearing a face mask actually increases negative affect, discomfort, and lowers the speed and quality of task performance in the wearer via an online experiment. Participants were recruited through snowball sampling via social media to participate in an online study wherein they were asked to complete a survey, an online typing speed test, and then self-report levels of negative affect and discomfort experienced during the typing test. Participants were randomly assigned to either receive instructions to wear a face-covering of their choosing for the duration of the study or to complete the study without wearing a face mask. Of 139 total participants, only 61 provided usable data. No significant differences between the experimental and control group were found on any of the dependent variables. Explanations for these findings, including low statistical power and methodological limitations due to the virtual nature of the study, as well as recommendations for future research, are discussed.