A new study reveals that many individuals perceive themselves to be less attractive and want to hide their face in public with masks.
In the journal Frontiers in Psychology, researchers published findings suggesting that self-perceived attractiveness has a significant effect on decisions to continue masking. They also found that for some, mask-wearing has shifted from being a self-protection measure during the pandemic to being a self-presentation tactic now that the pandemic is over.
“Self-perceived attractiveness is defined as individuals’ self-concept or beliefs about their physical appearances,” said researchers from the Department of Psychology and Center for Happiness Studies at Seoul National University in South Korea. “Research shows that individuals who perceive themselves as more (vs. less) attractive possess more socially desirable attributes, have higher self-esteem, and enjoy better mental and physical health.”
They also cited studies that show behavioral differences between attractive and unattractive individuals, leading them to theorize that a person’s self-perceived attractiveness could influence whether they want to continue masking even though the COVID-19 pandemic is largely perceived as over.
“In essence, a mask covers the lower half of the face. As essential cues that signal (un) attractiveness can be censored with a mask, mask-wearing might critically influence how one’s attractiveness is perceived,” they wrote.
The researchers explained that prior research established a baseline that determined the perception of attractiveness in people with face masks.
“Specifically, relatively unattractive individuals are deemed more attractive with masks, whereas relatively attractive individuals’ mask-worn faces are perceived as less attractive,” they explained. “Overall, previous findings suggest that mask-wearing enhances perceived attractiveness among unattractive individuals, while the opposite is true for attractive individuals.”
Their findings demonstrated that self-perceived attractiveness significantly impacted decisions on masking, but only in situations where a person is motivated to impress others, such as job interviews or blind dates.
A separate study released earlier this month by researchers at Cardiff University found that both men and women were judged as looking better when a face covering obscured the lower half of their face, the Guardian reported.