Peer Review History

Original SubmissionSeptember 24, 2020
Decision Letter - Zezhi Li, Editor

PONE-D-20-30132

Children’s Emotion Inferences from Masked Faces: Implications for Social Interactions During COVID-19

PLOS ONE

Dear Dr. Ruba,

Thank you for submitting your manuscript to PLOS ONE. After careful consideration, we feel that it has merit but does not fully meet PLOS ONE’s publication criteria as it currently stands. Therefore, we invite you to submit a revised version of the manuscript that addresses the points raised during the review process.

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We look forward to receiving your revised manuscript.

Kind regards,

Zezhi Li, Ph.D., M.D.

Academic Editor

PLOS ONE

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Reviewers' comments:

Reviewer's Responses to Questions

Comments to the Author

1. Is the manuscript technically sound, and do the data support the conclusions?

The manuscript must describe a technically sound piece of scientific research with data that supports the conclusions. Experiments must have been conducted rigorously, with appropriate controls, replication, and sample sizes. The conclusions must be drawn appropriately based on the data presented.

Reviewer #1: Yes

Reviewer #2: Yes

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2. Has the statistical analysis been performed appropriately and rigorously?

Reviewer #1: Yes

Reviewer #2: Yes

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3. Have the authors made all data underlying the findings in their manuscript fully available?

The PLOS Data policy requires authors to make all data underlying the findings described in their manuscript fully available without restriction, with rare exception (please refer to the Data Availability Statement in the manuscript PDF file). The data should be provided as part of the manuscript or its supporting information, or deposited to a public repository. For example, in addition to summary statistics, the data points behind means, medians and variance measures should be available. If there are restrictions on publicly sharing data—e.g. participant privacy or use of data from a third party—those must be specified.

Reviewer #1: Yes

Reviewer #2: Yes

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4. Is the manuscript presented in an intelligible fashion and written in standard English?

PLOS ONE does not copyedit accepted manuscripts, so the language in submitted articles must be clear, correct, and unambiguous. Any typographical or grammatical errors should be corrected at revision, so please note any specific errors here.

Reviewer #1: Yes

Reviewer #2: Yes

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5. Review Comments to the Author

Please use the space provided to explain your answers to the questions above. You may also include additional comments for the author, including concerns about dual publication, research ethics, or publication ethics. (Please upload your review as an attachment if it exceeds 20,000 characters)

Reviewer #1: Thanks to the editor for giving me this opportunity to review this article. Overall, this article is good, and it is also a useful exploration in a special period. There is one main question that I think it still needs to be adjusted statistically. The author performed repeated measures analysis of variance and took age as a covariate. In fact, gender is also a very important factor that may influence the results, so I suggest that the author stratify gender and see what the results are different?

Reviewer #2: The objective of the research is to assess how occluding parts of the face might impact the emotion inferences that children make during social interactions. The study found that while there may be some challenges for children incurred by others wearing masks, in combination with other contextual cues, masks are unlikely to dramatically impair children’s social interactions in their everyday lives.

Although this study is quite interesting and these results highlight how children’s social interactions may be minimally impacted by mask wearing during the COVID-19 pandemic, the following issues need to be addressed before it is accepted and published.

Points to address:

1. The current study mainly focused on negative emotions i.e. sadness, anger, and fear. I wonder is there a particular reason why only study these 3 negative emotions? It would be great if the authors can provide the motivation for studying these negative emotions in the introduction.

2. Can you describe how the 1000 bootstrapped samples were estimated in detail?

3. How does children’s accuracy differ based on gender? It would be great if the results can be included in the manuscript.

4. For facial configurations associated with sadness, it seems there is no significant difference in accuracy between no covering and shades. How do you interpret this finding?

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6. PLOS authors have the option to publish the peer review history of their article (what does this mean?). If published, this will include your full peer review and any attached files.

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Reviewer #1: No

Reviewer #2: No

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Revision 1

Dear Dr. Li,

Thank you for providing us with this opportunity to revise and resubmit our work. We sincerely appreciate the reviewers’ thoughtful and thorough comments. Please find attached our revised manuscript to be reconsidered for publication at PLOS One.

As indicated below, this revised manuscript takes into account all of the issues raised by you and the reviewers. We have included both an unmarked and marked-up version of our manuscript in this submission.

Editor Comments:

1. Please ensure that your manuscript meets PLOS ONE's style requirements, including those for file naming.

We have modified our files to meet PLOS ONE’s style requirements, including those for file naming.

2. We note that you have stated that you will provide repository information for your data at acceptance. Should your manuscript be accepted for publication, we will hold it until you provide the relevant accession numbers or DOIs necessary to access your data. If you wish to make changes to your Data Availability statement, please describe these changes in your cover letter and we will update your Data Availability statement to reflect the information you provide.

The data and code can be located at this DOI: doi.org/10.17605/OSF.IO/7FYX9. This link has been added to the manuscript (page 8). The Data Availability statement has also been updated.

3. Please ensure that you refer to Figure 4 in your text as, if accepted, production will need this reference to link the reader to the figure.

Figure 4 has now been referenced on page 9.

4. We note that Figures 1 and 2 include images of participants in the study. Please amend the methods section and ethics statement of the manuscript to explicitly state that the patient/participant has provided consent for publication: “The individual in this manuscript has given written informed consent (as outlined in PLOS consent form) to publish these case details”.

Figures 1 and 2 are pictures of stimuli used in the study (selected from the Matsumoto and Ekman (1988) database), not pictures of participants in the study. We have now explicitly stated this in the captions for both figures (pages 6-7)

Reviewer #1:

1. The author performed repeated measures analysis of variance and took age as a covariate. In fact, gender is also a very important factor that may influence the results, so I suggest that the author stratify gender and see what the results are different?

We have added Gender as a between-subjects factor to the overall ANCOVA and reported results on page 12:

“Although there was not a significant main effect of Gender, F(1, 78) = .54, p > .25, ηp2 = .01, a Gender x Emotion interaction emerged, F(2, 154) = 3.20, p = .044, ηp2 = .04. Follow-up comparisons showed that male participants were significantly more accurate with facial configurations associated with anger (M = .30, SD = .46) compared to female participants (M = .24, SD = .42), t(79) = 2.28, p = .025, d = .51, CI95%[.01, .12]. Accuracy for facial configurations associated with sadness, t(79) = 1.25, p = .22 d = .28, CI95%[-.03, .11], or fear, t(79) = .53, p > .25, d = .12, CI95%[-.08, .05], did not differ based on participant gender.”

Reviewer #2:

1. I wonder is there a particular reason why only study these 3 negative emotions? It would be great if the authors can provide the motivation for studying these negative emotions in the introduction.

We have clarified why these three negative emotions were selected on page 7:

“These three emotions were selected given that adults tend to fixate predominantly on the eyes for these facial configurations, rather than other parts of the face (e.g., the mouth and nose, as with happiness and disgust) (Eisenbarth & Alpers, 2011; Smith et al., 2005). Further, negative emotions are complex and rich in informational value (Vaish et al., 2008); yet, these emotions have received limited empirical attention in the literature on emotion perception development (Ruba et al., 2019, 2020; Ruba & Repacholi, 2019).”

2. Can you describe how the 1000 bootstrapped samples were estimated in detail?

We have provided more detail on the bootstrapped samples in the caption of Figure 3 (page 8):

“Confidence intervals (95%) were estimated with bootstrapping (1,000 bootstrap estimates resampled 81 times from mean participant accuracy).”

3. How does children’s accuracy differ based on gender? It would be great if the results can be included in the manuscript.

We have added Gender as a between-subjects factor to the overall ANCOVA and reported results on page 12:

“Although there was not a significant main effect of Gender, F(1, 78) = .54, p > .25, ηp2 = .01, a Gender x Emotion interaction emerged, F(2, 154) = 3.20, p = .044, ηp2 = .04. Follow-up comparisons showed that male participants were significantly more accurate with facial configurations associated with anger (M = .30, SD = .46) compared to female participants (M = .24, SD = .42), t(79) = 2.28, p = .025, d = .51, CI95%[.01, .12]. Accuracy for facial configurations associated with sadness, t(79) = 1.25, p = .22 d = .28, CI95%[-.03, .11], or fear, t(79) = .53, p > .25, d = .12, CI95%[-.08, .05], did not differ based on participant gender.”

4. For facial configurations associated with sadness, it seems there is no significant difference in accuracy between no covering and shades. How do you interpret this finding?

We have added an interpretation to the revision (page 11). Our analysis in the subsequent section (“what inferences did children make for each stimulus”) also provides support for this interpretation.

“However, children were only less accurate with faces that wore sunglasses compared to uncovered for two emotions: anger and fear. This suggests that children inferred whether the face displayed sadness from mouth shape alone, whereas the information from the eye region was necessary for forming inferences about anger and fear.”

Decision Letter - Zezhi Li, Editor

Children’s Emotion Inferences from Masked Faces: Implications for Social Interactions During COVID-19

PONE-D-20-30132R1

Dear Dr. Ruba,

We’re pleased to inform you that your manuscript has been judged scientifically suitable for publication and will be formally accepted for publication once it meets all outstanding technical requirements.

Within one week, you’ll receive an e-mail detailing the required amendments. When these have been addressed, you’ll receive a formal acceptance letter and your manuscript will be scheduled for publication.

An invoice for payment will follow shortly after the formal acceptance. To ensure an efficient process, please log into Editorial Manager at http://www.editorialmanager.com/pone/, click the 'Update My Information' link at the top of the page, and double check that your user information is up-to-date. If you have any billing related questions, please contact our Author Billing department directly at authorbilling@plos.org.

If your institution or institutions have a press office, please notify them about your upcoming paper to help maximize its impact. If they’ll be preparing press materials, please inform our press team as soon as possible -- no later than 48 hours after receiving the formal acceptance. Your manuscript will remain under strict press embargo until 2 pm Eastern Time on the date of publication. For more information, please contact onepress@plos.org.

Kind regards,

Zezhi Li, Ph.D., M.D.

Academic Editor

PLOS ONE

Additional Editor Comments (optional):

Reviewers' comments:

Reviewer's Responses to Questions

Comments to the Author

1. If the authors have adequately addressed your comments raised in a previous round of review and you feel that this manuscript is now acceptable for publication, you may indicate that here to bypass the “Comments to the Author” section, enter your conflict of interest statement in the “Confidential to Editor” section, and submit your "Accept" recommendation.

Reviewer #2: All comments have been addressed

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2. Is the manuscript technically sound, and do the data support the conclusions?

The manuscript must describe a technically sound piece of scientific research with data that supports the conclusions. Experiments must have been conducted rigorously, with appropriate controls, replication, and sample sizes. The conclusions must be drawn appropriately based on the data presented.

Reviewer #2: Yes

**********

3. Has the statistical analysis been performed appropriately and rigorously?

Reviewer #2: Yes

**********

4. Have the authors made all data underlying the findings in their manuscript fully available?

The PLOS Data policy requires authors to make all data underlying the findings described in their manuscript fully available without restriction, with rare exception (please refer to the Data Availability Statement in the manuscript PDF file). The data should be provided as part of the manuscript or its supporting information, or deposited to a public repository. For example, in addition to summary statistics, the data points behind means, medians and variance measures should be available. If there are restrictions on publicly sharing data—e.g. participant privacy or use of data from a third party—those must be specified.

Reviewer #2: Yes

**********

5. Is the manuscript presented in an intelligible fashion and written in standard English?

PLOS ONE does not copyedit accepted manuscripts, so the language in submitted articles must be clear, correct, and unambiguous. Any typographical or grammatical errors should be corrected at revision, so please note any specific errors here.

Reviewer #2: Yes

**********

6. Review Comments to the Author

Please use the space provided to explain your answers to the questions above. You may also include additional comments for the author, including concerns about dual publication, research ethics, or publication ethics. (Please upload your review as an attachment if it exceeds 20,000 characters)

Reviewer #2: The authors have satisfactorily responded to all my questions and made the necessary changes to the manuscript. The revised version of the manuscript appears to be good.

**********

7. PLOS authors have the option to publish the peer review history of their article (what does this mean?). If published, this will include your full peer review and any attached files.

If you choose “no”, your identity will remain anonymous but your review may still be made public.

Do you want your identity to be public for this peer review? For information about this choice, including consent withdrawal, please see our Privacy Policy.

Reviewer #2: No

Formally Accepted
Acceptance Letter - Zezhi Li, Editor

PONE-D-20-30132R1

Children’s Emotion Inferences from Masked Faces: Implications for Social Interactions During COVID-19

Dear Dr. Ruba:

I'm pleased to inform you that your manuscript has been deemed suitable for publication in PLOS ONE. Congratulations! Your manuscript is now with our production department.

If your institution or institutions have a press office, please let them know about your upcoming paper now to help maximize its impact. If they'll be preparing press materials, please inform our press team within the next 48 hours. Your manuscript will remain under strict press embargo until 2 pm Eastern Time on the date of publication. For more information please contact onepress@plos.org.

If we can help with anything else, please email us at plosone@plos.org.

Thank you for submitting your work to PLOS ONE and supporting open access.

Kind regards,

PLOS ONE Editorial Office Staff

on behalf of

Dr. Zezhi Li

Academic Editor

PLOS ONE

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