Surgical face masks make people look more attractive: UK study

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Monday, January 17, 2022, 06:03 PM IST
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Representative Image | Xinhua/Deng Hua

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

Dr Michael Lewis from the UK based Cardiff University, an expert in faces, was quoted in reports about his research carried out before the pandemic. “We wanted to test whether this had changed since face coverings became ubiquitous and understand whether the type of mask had any effect,” he said.

Further, the researcher stated, “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.”

Lewis guessed the reason for the attractiveness to be that the face mask covered the lower half of the face and directed attention to the eyes.

The first part of the research took place in February last year. Participants of the interesting study were asked to rate on a scale of one to 10 the attractiveness. Forty-three women responded to the research to displayed images of male wearing a plain cloth mask, a blue medical face mask, and holding a plain black book covering the area a face mask would hide.

Results were to suggest that those wearing a cloth mask were significantly more attractive than the ones with no masks or whose faces were partly obscured by the book. But the surgical mask – which was just a normal, disposable kind – made the wearer look even better.

The results of the first study has been published in the journal Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications. A second study has been carried out, in which a group of men look at women in masks; it has yet to be published but Lewis said the results were broadly the same.

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