Deciding if and when to wear a mask used to depend on how safe, or unsafe, a person felt in certain settings; but for some people, it might actually boil down to how attractive they think they are, according to a recent study.
In a survey of 1,030 people, participants were asked to “self-evaluate their facial appearance,” and indicate how likely they are to wear masks these days.
“Individuals with high self-perceived attractiveness were less willing to wear a mask,” because they thought masks hid their attractiveness, according to the study in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, published in January.
The study quoted one person as saying: “I can’t wait to stop wearing a mask … I can’t wait to show my full face in places again.”
People who felt less attractive noted the stark opposite and were much more likely to still wear masks.
“I like to hide my face under the mask and really dread the day when mask mandates will come to an end,” said another person quoted in the paper.
Participants were also asked to consider if location impacted their willingness to mask, and were given scenarios like walking their dog or going to a job interview.
Those who considered themselves really attractive were a lot more likely to unmask for a job interview, than people who didn’t.
This difference is likely linked to the concept of “pretty privilege,” the notion that people who are considered attractive, based on society’s definition of beauty, will have better, and more, opportunities than people who aren’t considered attractive.
“These findings suggest that individuals are highly aware of the benefits of being physically attractive during the recruitment process, driving them to enhance their physical attractiveness,” the paper says.
Masking while dog-walking was much less important to both groups. Though, people who found themselves more attractive were still more likely to leave their mask at home while walking their dog.
“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 study authors wrote.
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