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Good News: Study Finds Face Masks Make You Look More Attractive

Hannah Blackiston

Published 

Good News: Study Finds Face Masks Make You Look More Attractive

We've had two years of masking up and while they can be annoying it seems like there's an upside to them.

As well as the obvious benefit of helping prevent the spread of the ole coronavirus, there's now even more reason to slap a mask on because a new study has shown they can actually make you look more attractive.

Researchers at Cardiff University found both men and women were found to look better with a face-covering obscuring the lower half of their faces.

samuel wordley / Alamy Stock Photo
samuel wordley / Alamy Stock Photo

In fact, a disposable surgical style mask was deemed to be the most appealing across the board.

Dr Michael Lewis, an expert in faces and reader from the universities School of Psychology said research before the pandemic showed people were less likely to be attracted to masks because they associated them with disease or illness.

"We wanted to test whether this had changed since face coverings became ubiquitous and understand whether the type of mask had any effect," he told The Guardian.

Jeff Gilbert / Alamy Stock Photo
Jeff Gilbert / Alamy Stock Photo

"Our study suggests faces are considered most attractive when covered by medical face masks.

"This may be because we're used to healthcare workers wearing blue masks and now we associate these with people in caring or medical professions.

"At a time when we feel vulnerable, we may find the wearing of medical masks reassuring and so feel more positive towards the wearer."

Research for the study began in February last year, by which point the British population was comfortable with mask-wearing.

Forty-three women were asked to rate male faces on a scale out of 10 while they were wearing a plain cloth mask, a blue medical mask, were without a mask and were holding a plain black book to cover the bottom half of the face.

The cloth mask wearers were marked as significantly more attractive than those without masks or with the book, but the blue disposable surgical masks were ranked even higher.

Kamil Macniak / Alamy Stock Photo
Kamil Macniak / Alamy Stock Photo

"The results run counter to the pre-pandemic research where it was thought masks made people think about disease and the person should be avoided," said Lewis.

"The pandemic has changed our psychology in how we perceive the wearers of masks. When we see someone wearing a mask we no longer think 'that person has a disease, I need to stay away'.

"This relates to evolutionary psychology and why we select the partners we do. Disease and evidence of disease can play a big role in mate selection - previously any cues to disease would be a big turn-off.

"Now we can observe a shift in our psychology such that face masks are no longer acting as a contamination cue."

Berit Kessler / Alamy Stock Photo
Berit Kessler / Alamy Stock Photo

Lewis said people had also considered that it possible people thought those with masks on were more attractive because it drew attention to the person's eyes.

He said other studies that covered half of the face had shown similar results as people are likely to fill in the missing gaps and exaggerate the overall impact.

The study showing men's feelings on women in masks has not yet been published, but Lewis said the results were broadly the same.

Featured Image Credit: György Barna / Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: covid, News

Hannah Blackiston
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