The pandemic has changed many aspects of our lives, but it may also have changed what others find attractive to us.
A new study released by Cardiff University researchers on Monday found that medical masks, originally a social taboo associated with illness and disease, are now increasing attractiveness.
Admittedly, the mask covers half of the face, so the increase in attractiveness may be related to the “beauty of occlusion,” the researchers said.
The study was part of an ongoing study examining attraction and spouse selection and how these norms changed after COVID. It was attended by 43 women from Cardiff University Undergraduate students in psychology saw 40 male faces, 20 of which were attractive and 20 of which were unattractive., based on previous ratings.
Men’s faces are shown in four different ways: with a medical mask, with a cloth mask, with a book in front of their faces, or without covering at all.
The researchers found that men’s faces were most attractive when female participants wore medical masks.
Female participants also found that men wearing a fabric mask were more attractive than men without a mask at all, but still not as attractive as men in a medical mask.
One of the study’s co-authors, Michael Lewis, was surprised by the results.
“Fashion masks could be expected to increase attractiveness, so it was surprising that medical masks had a greater impact,” Lewis said.
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In 2016, particularly before the pandemic, a study in the Journal of Japanese Psychological Research found that attractive Japanese women were considered less attractive when they wore a sanitary mask. Based on a survey of participants with both men and women, participants expected that face masks would make women more attractive, but in reality it linked them to unhealthiness, the study found.
The results of the 2021 study show drastic changes in how masks affect attractiveness, the study said
“The previous link between face masks associated with disease has diminished and now face masks are associated with caring professions,” Lewis said.
The mask effect, on the other hand, did not appear only because it covered half of a person’s face and hid potentially undesirable features. This trend exists for men who are rated as very attractive as well as for men who are rated as unattractive. In addition, both attractive and unsightly men who covered their faces with a half-notebook were considered less attractive than those in a medical or cloth mask.
While medical masks may indicate disease, they can be seen as a sign of “being responsible and caring citizens, which can have a positive effect on perceived attractiveness,” he said. in the study.
Another study by Japanese researchers shows that women who wear masks also look attractive.
The study, published in i-Perception magazine in June 2021, included 286 adults, men and women who took part in a survey on the facial attractiveness of women wearing sanitary masks. Women’s faces were rated more attractive and healthier with the presence of masks, a significant difference from the 2016 study.
You can connect with writer Michelle Shen @ michelle_shen10 via Twitter.