A recent study in Frontiers in Psychology found that people who believe they are less attractive than others are more likely to continue hiding their identities when they are highly motivated to make a good impression.
“Our results consistently demonstrated that self-perceived unattractive individuals were more willing to wear a mask, as they believed it would benefit their attractiveness,” the authors noted in the report.
The study’s authors added, “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 effects of self-perceived attractiveness on the intention to wear a mask, however, only apply in circumstances where people are highly motivated to make an impression, the researchers stress.
Researchers from Seoul National University proposed that there may be a psychological factor influencing people’s decisions because some people continue to wear masks while many others have been happy to leave them behind.
“Self-perceived attractiveness is defined as individuals’ self-concept or beliefs about their physical appearances,” the study notes.
According to the study, people who are more confident in their own attractiveness are less likely to wear masks because doing so makes it more difficult for them to leave a favorable impression on others.
The researchers focused on three studies that surveyed participants in the U.S. about their self-perceived attractiveness and their mask-wearing behaviors in job interview scenarios.
The research team studied job interview settings because this is “where interviewees’ physical appearance considerably affects their interview outcomes,” per the report.
“Therefore, our results demonstrate that mask-wearing can serve two functions in the post-pandemic era: self-presentation and self-protection,” according to the study.
The study, however, noted several limitations where researchers acknowledged that they only studied one particular situation, namely job interviews, but that there are many other situations that motivate people to make good impressions, such as going on blind dates.