As the coronavirus death toll ticks up and some states ease their restrictions, a new study suggests that men might be more likely to leave their face coverings at home, New York Post reported.
Men in the US report less intention than women to wear face coverings, especially in counties that don’t mandate wearing them, according to a paper authored by researchers from Middlesex University London in the UK and the Mathematical Science Research Institute in Berkeley, Calif. This, the authors say, suggests that making face coverings mandatory “has a larger effect on men than on women.”
Men are also less likely to believe they’ll be seriously impacted by COVID-19, the research found. “The fact that men less than women intend to wear a face covering can be partly explained by the fact that men more than women believe that they will be relatively unaffected by the disease,” co-authors Valerio Capraro and Hélène Barcelo wrote.
This finding is “particularly ironic,” they said, as men appear to be more severely impacted by the virus: In places such as China, Italy, Spain, and New York City, men have died from COVID-19 at far higher rates than women did.
The study also found that men are more likely to report feeling negative emotions while wearing a face covering. “Men more than women agree that wearing a face covering is shameful, not cool, a sign of weakness and stigma, and these gender differences also mediate gender differences intentions to wear a face covering,” Capraro and Barcelo wrote. That finding, they said, indicates that interventions to promote men’s use of face-coverings work to decrease those emotions.
In the study, the researchers surveyed 2,459 people living in the US, including 1,266 men, 1,183 women, and ten who did not disclose their gender. Men were “slightly overrepresented” (51 percent vs. 48 percent women), while people aged 25 to 54 and white people were overrepresented, and the average respondent seemed to be relatively left-leaning.
Other surveys have also shown men’s relative reluctance to don face coverings to protect against COVID-19. One Gallup/Knight Foundation poll conducted April 14 to 20, for example, found that 29 percent of men said they had “always” worn a mask or cloth face covering outside their home in the past seven days, compared to 44 percent of women.