'Unattractive individuals' more likely to wear masks in post-Covid world: study

"Our results consistently demonstrated that self-perceived unattractive individuals were more willing to wear a mask."

Joshua Young North Carolina

Individuals who see themselves as unattractive are more inclined to continue wearing masks in a post-Covid world, according to a study published in Frontiers in Psychology.

The authors of the report wrote, "Our results consistently demonstrated that self-perceived unattractive individuals were more willing to wear a mask, as they believed it would benefit their attractiveness."

"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," they added.

According to the study, "Self-perceived attractiveness is defined as individuals' self-concept or beliefs about their physical appearances."

According to Fox News, one of the study's authors Incheol Choi, a professor of psychology at Seoul National University in Seoul, South Korea, told the outlet that the "the effects of self-perceived attractiveness on the intention to wear a mask only applies to situations when people are very motivated to make a good impression."

People who perceive themselves as more attractive considered mask wearing a hindrance towards making a good first impression, whereas those who thought they were unattractive preferred the mask in first impression settings.

A psychologist and adjunct professor at North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina, Christopher L. Edwards, told Fox, said, "it is not unusual to discover that there was an unintended benefit for individuals whose self-perception was negative."

"For many, the masks covered expressions of negative emotions in interpersonal settings," Edwards said. "For others, it hid the faces of those who perceived themselves as unattractive."

The researchers developed three studies that involved US participants. The first asked 244 participants if they would wear a mask during a job interview and if they thought the person interviewing them would think they were attractive. 

"The result shows that those who believe they are attractive are more likely to believe that masks will diminish their attractiveness, and hence less likely to wear face masks," Choi said.

In the report, the authors noted "that mask attractiveness belief was related to mask-wearing intention to a similar degree of COVID-19 fear in study 1" and "Therefore, our results demonstrate that mask-wearing can serve two functions in the post-pandemic era: self-presentation and self-protection."

The second study mimicked the first and confirmed the results.

The third study added the option of wearing a mask for a more mundane activity, dog walking, and 

"We tried to show that the influence of self-perceived attractiveness on mask-wearing tends only to be present when individuals are highly motivated to impress others (i.e., a job interview) — while it was not the case when they engage in mundane, everyday activities (i.e., dog walking)," Choi said.


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