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Men Say Masks ‘Not Cool,’ Less Likely to Wear Them

photo of person wearing mask

May 18, 2020 -- Men are less likely than women to wear face masks as protection against coronavirus, new research shows, with men who were surveyed more often saying “wearing a face covering is shameful, not cool, a sign of weakness, and a stigma.”

Men also were more likely to believe they won’t be affected by the coronavirus, which is “particularly ironic because official statistics show that actually coronavirus impacts men more seriously than women,” said Valerio Capraro, PhD, senior lecturer in Economics, according to a news release from Middlesex University London.

Between April 28 and May 4, researchers from Middlesex University London and the Mathematical Science Research Institute in Berkeley, CA, garnered opinions from a sample of 2,459 people recruited by Amazon Mechanical Turk, a crowdsourcing website. Surveyed were 1,266 men (51.48%) and 1,183 women (48.10%), with 10 people not disclosing their gender.

Participants were asked to respond to questions with numerical answers, with zero meaning strongly disagree and 10 strongly agree.

When asked if they think that wearing a face mask is “not cool,” men answered on average 5.03 out of 10, compared to 4.67 for women, the news release said.

Men were more likely to agree with the statement that “wearing a face covering is shameful,” “wearing a face covering is a sign of weakness,” and “the stigma attached to wearing a face covering is preventing them from wearing one as often as they should.”

One of the key findings of the paper titled “The effect of messaging and gender on intentions to wear a face covering to slow down COVID-19 transmission,” was that men were more amendable to wearing masks if they live in a place where masks were mandatory.

“We find that men less than women intend to wear a face covering, but this difference almost disappears in counties where wearing a face covering is mandatory,” the researchers said.