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The impact of face masks in communication during the pandemic
Updated: 2022-05-18 17:08:43 KST
"With the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions and with masks no longer required when outdoors, life on campus is gradually returning to normal.
Here at Sungkyunkwan University, the school is hosting a live festival for the first time in three years."

And to facilitate meetings between students who have not been able to socialize during the pandemic, the student government organized an opportunity for students to meet each other.
Students sign up in advance to be randomly matched to another student…whom they'll meet for the first time at a designated booth.
But due to remaining mask restrictions at places where over 50 people gather,… students still have to wear masks upon meeting.

"There was difficulty hearing other people's voices with masks on. Communication was easier without masks on, so when the (pandemic) situation gets better, it would be nice to participate in the event without having to wear masks."

"It was a nuisance that the mouth shapes and overall facial expressions didn't show too well." 8:26

Masks have been found to hinder interpersonal communication as well as interpersonal trust.
A recent study found that mask use undermines trust in others…and the negative effects of masks on interpersonal trust were particularly significant among individuals from households facing economic risks due to COVID-19 and those who were less trusting of the benefits of mask wearing.

"When you wear face masks, you're basically covering part of your face…and a lot of your expressions are gone and you can't actually show that whether you're smiling…so there're things that obviously limit the amount of communication that you can have. Whether it actually it turns into reduced trust depends on these experiences people have had."

Masks get in the way of communication for a variety of reasons.

"It's a muffled sound, it's not as clear. You need to speak at a higher volume, if there're a lot of people involved. You can't speak as the same pitch as you were speaking before. Your breathing is not as regular as before…and breathing is a very important factor of communication."

The wearing of masks has had an effect on many interpersonal meetings, including interviews.
Employers say that with the lifting of mask wearing mandate,there will also be changes in the recruitment process.

"I think lifting mask regulations in the near future, obviously under the supervision of government regulations, would definitely enhance communication not only between a employer and a employee and also to a wider sort of a population as a whole."

Meanwhile, South Korean health authorities have said that they will consider lifting of indoor mask wearing mandate when COVID-19 is considered an endemic across the world.
Lee Shi-hoo, Arirang News.
Reporter : slee@arirang.com