Now that we are used to wearing masks in public, it has gotten easier and easier to carry on conversations while we're out and about. And according to emotion researcher Ursula Hess, deputy dean for international affairs at the faculty of life sciences at Humboldt University of Berlin, interviewed in Scientific American, your ability to recognize emotional expressions does not get worse if your counterpart's mouth and nose are covered. Smiles are particularly easy to identify because laugh lines appear around the eyes. Hess noted, however, that fear and surprise are hard to tell apart: Both involve opening the eyes wide, and you need to see what the mouth is doing to figure out what's going on.
Smiling, however, is important — it will lift the spirits of both you and the person who can discern those laugh lines behind the mask.
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