Many fictional superheroes wear masks, but in the real world, men are less likely to wear face masks during the coronavirus pandemic because they are "not cool," according to a new study. The study, written by researchers in London and Berkeley, California, found that men are also less likely to believe they will be seriously impacted by COVID-19, despite research showing that is not true. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been recommending all Americans wear face masks in public since early April.
The new study found U.S. men are less likely than women to wear face coverings, especially in countries not requiring them, reports MarketWatch. The study as conducted by researchers at Middlesex University in London and the Mathematical Science Research Institute in Berkeley. The authors suggest that making face coverings mandatory will have an increased effect on men than on women. The study's sample was made up of 2,459 Amazon Mechanicak Turk recruits, with men making up 51 percent of the respondents.
Men are more likely than women to report negative feelings when wearing a face mask, the study found. "Men more than women agree that wearing a face covering is shameful, not cool, a sign of weakness, and a stigma; and these gender differences also mediate gender differences in intentions to wear a face covering," authors Valerio Capraro and Hélène Barcelo wrote. They noted that mandatory face mask requirements would decrease these feelings.
Capara and Barcelo also found it "particularly ironic" that men are less likely to wear face coverings because "men more than women believe that they will be relatively unaffected by the disease" since data from New York City, Italy, China and Spain have shown men die from COVID-19 at higher rates than women. The authors went on to point out how important messaging can be. "In particular, messages highlighting the costs (or the benefits) of (not) failing to respect prevention measures can be very effective, as they can be displayed almost everywhere in the street through screens and posters; they can reach people in their homes through television and social media; and they can even be voiced in the street using cars equipped with a megaphone, as it happened in Italy," Capara and Bacelo wrote.
In early April, the CDC recommended that all Americans wear face masks during the coronavirus pandemic, based on research showing that some may carry the coronavirus without showing symptoms. Since then, other studies have highlighted the reluctance to wear masks among men. A Gallup/Knight Foundation poll from April 14-20 showed 29 percent of men said they were "always" wearing a face covering outside, while 44 percent of women said they were.