Men are less likely to wear face masks in public to protect against COVID-19 because it is a “sign of weakness”, new research suggests.
Researchers at Middlesex University found that more men than women believe that wearing a face mask is “shameful” and not “cool” in the survey of 2,459 people living in the US.
“Our results also revealed that men are more likely to express negative emotions and stigma when wearing a face covering mask,” co-leader of the study, Dr Valerio Capraro, said.
Participants were asked about their intentions to wear a face mask outside the home, engaging in social activities and with people from another household.
The findings revealed that men were less inclined to wear a face mask outside the home compared with women.
Women were found to be more likely to wear face masks during essential activities than men.
The research also found that more men disagreed with the statement “wearing a face covering is cool” than women, but were more likely to believe “wearing a face covering is shameful” and “wearing a face covering is sign of weakness”.
Dr Capraro said: “Our results found that men have less intentions to wear a face covering than women, particularly in countries where face covering is not mandatory.”
However the research did suggest that men and women were more inclined to wear masks if they lived in countries where the law stated they had to.
He added: “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.”
The survey included 1,266 men and 1,183 women, while 10 people did not disclose gender.
More than 60% of the people surveyed were aged between 25 and 44, while 77.63% lived in an urban or suburban area.