EXCLUSIVE: Unattractive people are more likely to keep wearing face masks in the post-Covid era, study suggests.
Attractive people are less likely to keep wearing face masks in the post-Covid era, a study suggests.
Researchers conducted three questionnaires asking people about self-perceived attractiveness and mask-wearing intentions in various scenarios.
They concluded that young and middle-aged Americans who view themselves as attractive ‘believe wearing a mask hinders the opportunities to deliver a favorable impression to others’.
On the other hand, people who do not view themselves as attractive buy into the ‘mask attractiveness belief’ — that face coverings actually enhance their looks.
It comes after a major analysis found face masks made ‘little to no difference’ to Covid infection or death rates.
Attractive people are less likely to keep wearing face masks in the post-Covid era, research indicates (file image)
Initially used for anti-viral protection, the face mask has become one of the symbols of a fierce culture war in the US.
There has never been great evidence showing that masks are effective at preventing infections on a large scale, but that has not stopped officials from mandating them across the country.
Schools in Democrat states made face coverings an entry requirement for students as recently as this month, and the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) still recommends Americans wear them in places with high transmission levels like public transport.
Elderly Americans and patients with compromised immune systems are also encouraged to take precautions like wearing masks.
Even though President Joe Biden declared the Covid pandemic ‘over’ late last year, as many as four in 10 Americans still wear masks ‘occasionally’.
Researchers from Seoul National University in South Korea wanted to see if self-perceived attractiveness played a role in people’s mask-wearing intentions. They carried out three experiments on Americans recruited from Amazon Mechanical Turk, a crowdsourcing website for businesses.
The average age in all the studies was 33 years old and men made up roughly 44 percent of each study population.
The team’s most noteworthy finding arose from their third study.
Study three involved 442 people, half of whom were told they were going to walk the dog and the other half were told they were going to a job interview.
They were asked: ‘In this scenario, do you think others will perceive you as more attractive with a face mask?’
They were also asked: ‘How much do you want to make a good first impression on others?’
People who had a job interview go to care more about whether wearing a mask affected their facial attractiveness.
For the initial study, researchers involved 244 people.
Participants scored their facial attractiveness before being asked to imagine a scenario in which they are invited for a job interview at a company they really like.
They were asked to answer the following questions: ‘Do you think the interviewers will perceive you as more attractive with a face mask?’ and ‘If wearing a face mask is optional in this interview session, would you wear a face mask during the company interview?’
People who scored themselves as very attractive were less likely to answer yes. They were also less likely to endorse the belief that mask-wearing enhances their appearance, which further dampened their mask-wearing intention in job interviews.
In an intervening study, 344 people who imagined themselves interviewing for a job at a well-respected company were asked: ‘Do you think the interviewers will perceive you as more [trustworthy/competent/attractive] with a face mask?’
People who answered yes to those questions were more likely to wear masks in the interview.
The study authors wrote: ‘Overall, we provide a novel finding that self-perceived attractiveness has significant effects on mask-wearing intention via mask attractiveness belief in the post-pandemic of COVID-19.
‘Our findings suggest that mask-wearing can shift from being a self-protection measure during the COVID-19 pandemic to a self-presentation tactic in the post-pandemic era.’
The report was published in Frontiers in Psychology.