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    MDX academic's joint research finds men less likely to wear masks to protect against COVID-19

    15/05/2020
    Men are also more inclined to feel stigma when wearing a face mask based on survey of nearly 2,500 people

    Men are less inclined to wear face masks in public to protect against COVID-19 than women and more likely to agree that wearing one was either “shameful, not cool and a sign of weakness”, based on new research.

    These findings give an indication as to how men and women will react as lockdown restrictions are eased around the world and people are encouraged to wear a mask in public to prevent a second wave of coronavirus.

    The research has been undertaken by Dr Valerio Capraro, a Senior Lecturer in Economics at Middlesex University, along with Hélène Barcelo, from the Mathematical Science Research Institute, Berkeley, USA.

    “Our results also revealed that men are more likely to express negative emotions and stigma when wearing a face covering mask.” Dr Valerio Capraro, Senior Lecturer in Economics.

    They surveyed 2,459 people living in the USA using the crowdsourcing website Amazon Mechanical Turk, which included 1,266 men (51.48%) and 1,183 women (48.10%), while 10 people did not disclose gender.

    Participants were asked, on a scale from 0 strongly disagree to 10 strongly agree, about their intentions to wear a face mask outside the home, engaging in social activities and with people from another household.

    They were also asked about their emotions while wearing a mask, which ranged from either cool, not cool, shameful and a sign of weakness.

    The results revealed:

    • 187 men gave negative answers* with regards to their intention to wear face masks outside the home compared to 136 women.
    • 99 men strongly disagreed with the statement that they “intend to wear a mask outside their home”, compared to only 58 women
    • 87 men strongly disagreed that “intend to wear a mask during essential activities”, compared to only 54 women
    • When asked whether they agree that wearing a face covering is “not cool”, men answered on average 5.03 out of 10 compared to 4.67 for women
    • Men are more likely than women to disagree with the statement "wearing a face covering is cool" and agree with the statements: “wearing a face covering is shameful”, “wearing a face covering is sign of weakness”, and “the stigma attached to wearing a face covering is preventing them from wearing one as often as they should”

    Dr.Capraro said: “Our results found that men have less intentions to wear a face covering than women particularly in counties where face covering is not mandatory.

    “We discovered the gender differences with regards to their intentions to wear a face covering are impacted by the person’s likelihood to contract the virus and recover.

    “In other words, the fact that men are less inclined to wear a face covering can be partly explained by the fact that men are more likely to believe that they will be relatively unaffected by the disease compared to women.

    “This is particularly ironic because official statistics show that actually coronavirus impacts men more seriously than women.

    “Our results also revealed that men are more likely to express negative emotions and stigma when wearing a face covering mask.”

    Participants were asked their location, whether they live in a region where face covering is mandatory or ‘shelter-in-place’ rules apply.

    The results found that the differences between men and women in counties where wearing a face mask is mandatory are less significant and both males and females are more inclined to wear masks if the local-national laws state they have to.

    More than 60 per cent of the people surveyed were aged between 25 and 44, while 77.63% lived in an urban or suburban area.

    The research has been published online.

    *On a scale of 0 strongly disagree to 10 strongly agree, the responses were between 0 to 4

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