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Review 1 "Social Attention During COVID-19 Pandemic: Face Masks Do Not Alter Gaze Cueing of Attention"

Published onApr 14, 2022
Review 1 "Social Attention During COVID-19 Pandemic: Face Masks Do Not Alter Gaze Cueing of Attention"

RR:C19 Evidence Scale rating by reviewer:

  • Reliable. The main study claims are generally justified by its methods and data. The results and conclusions are likely to be similar to the hypothetical ideal study. There are some minor caveats or limitations, but they would/do not change the major claims of the study. The study provides sufficient strength of evidence on its own that its main claims should be considered actionable, with some room for future revision.



In this paper, the authors present two online gaze cueing experiments and manipulated the presence or absence of a face mask. In both an Italian (E1) and Chinese (E2) sample taken in late 2020, they found that mask presence did not modulate gaze cueing.

Overall this is a clear result presented in a well-written manuscript. The study is well-motivated and of clear general interest.

I might suggest that the authors discuss a bit more the potential generalisability from this online study to face-to-face interactions.

I have a couple of suggestions for developing the work further, which the authors actually already touch on in the ms itself.

1. Manipulating mask presence by block or between subjects might produce different results because the no mask condition might carry-over vulnerable to the no-mask condition in some way. However, the ecological validity of masked vs not masked individuals in everyday life sort of justifies the present intermixed design, but I think it would nevertheless be interesting to examine.

2. I think that future work on this project could include examining any potential effect on framing/priming of infection threat in some manner typical of social psychological manipulations to see if proximal threat perception might modulate these effects. Moreover, a natural experiment by testing this study in the context of low vs high covid prevalence either over time or in different territories could be an interesting extension.

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