People who think themselves less attractive are more likely to continue wearing masks even without mandates, a study suggests.
Researchers in South Korea conducted three surveys of over a thousand young and middle-aged Americans, presenting them with various scenarios in which they were given a choice to wear a mask. The surveys revealed that those who perceive themselves as attractive are less likely to wear a mask whereas those who perceive themselves as less attractive believe that wearing a mask enhances their looks. The latter are referred to by Koreans as “ma-gi-kkun,” according to the researchers, while the American term for such people is “mask-fishers”.
The average age of respondents was 33 and men made up 44% of the study’s population.
In one survey, participants were asked to score their own attractiveness, after which half of respondents were presented with a scenario of going to a job interview with a company they like and the other half were given the scenario of walking the dog.
The survey asked, “In this scenario, do you think others will perceive you as more attractive with a face mask?” and, “How much do you want to make a good first impression on others?”
For the interview scenario, in which participants cared more about making a good impression, the researchers asked, “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?”
In another study, respondents were asked, “Do you think the interviewers will perceive you as more [trustworthy/competent/attractive] with a face mask?” Those who answered “Yes” were more likely to wear a mask.
“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,” said the researchers. “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.”