People who view themselves physically attractive were less likely to wear a mask to protect against COVID-19, according to a study. 

As mask mandates have flattened and many have resumed pre-pandemic behaviors, the mask has been oftentimes tossed to the side. But a study published earlier this year suggests choosing to mask up may also have to do with people’s perceptions of their own looks. 

“The current investigation contributes to the literature by providing novel evidence that self-perceived attractiveness influences how individuals form beliefs about themselves that lead to behavioral intentions,” the authors write. 

In the study published in Frontiers of Psychology, researchers at the Seoul National University asked over 1,000 people how attractive they see themselves, known as their “self-perceived attractiveness” according to the study which indicated how they saw their facial features in particular. The participants were then asked about mask-wearing intentions in various situations like a job interview, and if they believed their mask makes them less attractive. 

“The study provides a fresh window into how individuals may use face masks beyond the means of health behaviors, as mask-wearing has become optional in many countries,” the authors write.

For people who found themselves more attractive, they were more likely to think their mask makes them less attractive and less likely to wear one. The relationship between perceived mask attractiveness and mask wearing intention remained with similar COVID-19 fear. 

However, the stakes of the activity mattered. In a situation where a person was trying to impress someone else like a job interview, perceived attractiveness factored in more than another activity like walking a dog. 

 “Our results demonstrate that mask-wearing can serve two functions in the post-pandemic era—self-presentation and self-protection,” the authors write.

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