Men perceived as more attractive when wearing medical face masks

January 17, 2022
Men perceived as more attractive when wearing medical face masks

Men who wear medical [face] masks are perceived as more attractive by members of the opposite sex, said researchers at Cardiff University’s School of Psychology, UK. The research saw more than 160 male faces rated for attractiveness and showed that faces covered by medical masks were “significantly more attractive” than cloth masks, faces covered by notebooks, and uncovered faces – this was true whether the men were considered attractive or unattractive before the coverings were introduced.

“The advantage for a cloth mask can be attributed to the effect of occlusion, but the effect of the medical mask goes beyond just hiding undesirable features,” said Cardiff University researchers.

“It is possible that the additional advantage for medical masks comes from their associations with medical professionals. While medical masks might prime disease, they can also be seen as a sign of being responsible and caring citizens, which may positively impact perceived attractiveness,” the researchers added.

Forty-three female psychology undergraduates at the university were also asked if “face masks had become part of everyday life in the past year in the UK” and if “the use of face masks was effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19.” The women showed high levels of agreement with the statements.

According to university professor Dr. Michael B. Lewis, research conducted before the pandemic found medical face masks reduce attractiveness. But the pandemic has “changed our psychology” in how mask-wearers are perceived: “When we see someone wearing a mask we no longer think, ‘That person has a disease, I need to stay away.’ This relates to evolutionary psychology and why we select the partners we do. Disease and evidence of disease can play a big role in mate selection – previously any cues to disease would be a big turn off.

“Now we can observe a shift in our psychology such that face masks are no longer acting as a contamination cue.”

Read: Malaysian startup introduces sustainable, modular silicone face masks


Category: Education, Features

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