A new study conducted by scientists in Brazil has concluded that people’s resistance for not wearing masks to protect themselves from contracting coronavirus stems from their antisocial personality traits.
The study found that adherence to measures such as wearing masks is more challenging for people who show anti-social behaviour compared to those who have empathy.
The study was conducted to investigate the relationship between antisocial traits and compliance with COVID-19 containment measures.
Scientists surveyed more than 1,500 people in Latin America between 18 and 73 years of age. The survey asked personality-related questions about how well certain statements represented their behaviour on a scale; which is called "affective resonance".
The survey included questions on containment measures like wearing mask while outdoors.
Profile analysis revealed the existence of two prominent groups: antisocial pattern group and empathy pattern group.
The antisocial pattern group consisted of people who showed antisocial traits such as disregard for right and wrong, persistent lying, being insensitive and disrespectful of others, using charm or wit to manipulate people for personal gain or pleasure, a sense of superiority bordering on arrogance, recurring problems with laws, impulsiveness or failure to plan, hostility, aggression or violence. These traits are typically present in people diagnosed with Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD).
The group showed lower scores in affective resonance.
Empaths, on the other hand, are highly sensitive, absorb other people’s emotions, introverted, need alone time, are highly intuitive, and can become easily overwhelmed. The group showed high scores in affective resonance, lower scores for traits associated with ASPD.
Antisocials were found to be resistant to safety measures, while empaths were compliant.
According to a study from Oxford’s Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science, investigating the effectiveness of different face masks and coverings found that even homemade masks made of the correct material effectively reduce the spread of COVID-19 for the wearer and those around them.
Another study by The New England Journal of Medicine found using high-speed video to track droplets found even holding a washcloth over the mouth was effective in blocking droplets.
Another report published in The Lancet found that by wearing a face mask, the chances of contracting the virus are just 3 percent.
A study by Cambridge University found that even basic homemade masks can reduce transmission and prevent a second wave.
Research broadly suggests that face masks won't necessarily stop you from catching the virus, but it will lessen the chances of you passing it on if you are an asymptomatic carrier.
Despite the studies, people not wearing masks insists that masks are ineffective. There is an alarming number of people who refuse to wear masks, even when presented with facts. And studies show that a majority of these people are men.
In May, Middlesex University, London, and the University of Berkeley, California, surveyed 2,459 people in the US and found that men were less likely to wear masks than women, insinuating that masks are "shameful, not cool, and a sign of weakness".
Another study conducted by the US-based Kaiser Family Foundation, found that 68 percent of women frequently wore masks outside homes compared to 49 percent of men.
Emma Lygnerud Boberg, gender and programme development advisor at the International Media Support, Denmark, said this trend had been observed in previous epidemics.
Even after contracting COVID-19, the US President was not too keen on wearing masks. When he removed mask on the steps of the White House after returning from hospital, summed the pandemic political theatre of 2020, The Independent wrote.
Trump has used this mask-wearing as a sign of weakness to further his political agenda.
Peter Glick, a bias and discrimination expert at Lawrence University, “Conservatives seem to be reacting to a broader sense of the erosion of male privilege and dominance in society, and they, therefore, look up to male leaders who embrace masculine stereotypes. The masculine leaders they elect are very protective of their macho image, making them anti-maskers.”
His theory is supported by research. In June, a study conducted by Pew Research Center found that 76 percent of Democrat voters reported wearing a mask all the time in public, while only 53 percent of Republicans said the wore a mask.
Left-leaning people are comparatively more invested in the care foundation, i.e., protecting the vulnerable. The right-leaning people, on the other hand, hold freedom as a core value. This is perhaps why politically right-leaning people see mask-wearing as an infringement on their masculinity to a higher degree than those on the left.
First Published: IST