People who perceive themselves as more attractive are less likely to wear face masks, a recent study found.
The findings of the study were published in the peer-reviewed academic journal Frontiers in Psychology.
Research has shown that conventionally attractive people are associated with more positive personality traits and receive preferential treatment. Research has also shown that people, who are perceived as more attractive, tend to donate less to charity and act with more self-interested motivation.
Based on this, the researchers behind the study argued that self-perception of attractiveness can impact one's social behavior. This, too, may therefore extend to mask-wearing, due to the degree of public attention on wearing face masks amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Face masks amid the COVID-19 pandemic
Many countries legislated a requirement to wear masks. In some countries, like Israel, this included private establishments.
The temporary legislations raised considerable debate between personal freedoms and societal responsibility.
There was also significant discourse on the effectiveness of masks at reducing the risk of transmitting or receiving the disease.
First test: Do face masks make you seem less attractive?
In this study, three experiments were carried out to test the hypothesis.
In the first of the tests, 244 participants were recruited from Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTURK.)
In this test, participants were asked to rate their attractiveness using a three-item scale. They were then asked "Do you think the interviewers will perceive you as more attractive with a face mask?"
After this, participants were asked to answer whether they would wear a mask in an imaginary scenario.
Finally, the researchers measured fear of COVID-19, self-esteem and demographic variables like ethnicity and age.
Second test: Do face masks impact your personality traits?
The second experiment sought to understand individuals’ beliefs about the impact mask-wearing had on perceived personality traits and characteristics.
In this test, 354 Mturk users were recruited.
The same attractiveness scale was used as study one. They were then asked how much they agreed with a number of statements like "Do you think the interviewers will perceive you as more [trustworthy/competent/attractive] with a face mask?" They were then asked if they would wear a mask if interviewing for their dream company.
Third test: How would you wear a face mask to make a good first impression?
For the third experiment, 442 participants were recruited from Mturk users. Participants were asked to imagine that they were walking a dog. They were then asked how likely they were to wear a mask in this scenario.
Then, participants were asked how attractive others would perceive them to be with a face mask.
Following this, they were asked, "How much do you want to make a good first impression on others?"
Are people who think they're attractive less likely to wear masks?
The study found that people who view themselves as attractive are less likely to wear a mask.
Likewise, wearing a face mask has also shifted in the years since the COVID-19 pandemic began, becoming less of a health measure and more of a self-presentation tactic. The researchers noted that mask-wearing was thought to signify positive intentions, trustworthiness, and competence.
Participants who believed themselves to be attractive and were highly motivated to make a good first impression were less likely to wear a mask. However, those that were not motivated by making an impression on others were not as impacted by the desire to not wear a mask.