Two Psychological Reasons People Hate Wearing Face Masks
There has been no shortage of news on people’s refusal to wear face masks.
YouTuber Jack Paul recently threw a party in Calabasas, California that prompted residents and the mayor of Calabasas to publicly condemn his actions. The mayor is even considering pressing charges.
Then there is the infamous town hall meeting in Palm Beach County, Florida which had a cavalcade of characters illustrating that the politicians who were enforcing face masks were minions of the devil and crazy people.
I know it’s easy to say that they’re stupid. Hell, even I’m tempted. When you hear things like, “I don’t wear a mask for the same reason I don’t wear underwear. Things gotta breathe,” it is very tempting to just slap a label on their mouths and call it a day.
Emanuel Maidenberg, PhD, clinical professor of psychiatry and bio-behavioral sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA has given two explanations as to why people are refusing to use protective measures despite this global pandemic.
His answers are based on prior research on people’s behavioral responses during the SARS and Ebola outbreaks.
1. Low Health Anxiety
These are people who are never worried or concerned about their bodily well-being. They cannot imagine a future where they have Covid-19 and as a result they don’t want to have to play by the rules that society is dictating to them. They genuinely believe that this is a non-issue for them.
People with high health anxiety which would be people with respiratory illnesses, the elderly or those who are usually concerned about their health would naturally take every precaution necessary to sanitize and wear masks.
2. Unrealistic Optimism Bias
Going hand in hand with low health anxiety is the belief that everything’s going to work out just fine. One may suggest that this could be a delusion, especially when we’ve seen that Facebook friend who was calling the pandemic a hoax ending up in the hospital or even dead.
Regardless of what we call it, people are putting the lives of others in mortal danger because they ignore the statistics and warnings from healthcare professionals.
The “Covid-19: Mission for Masks” Google document that was started by doctoral student Sonja Schwartzbach illustrates the reality of how this illness is ravaging the country.
Google themselves provide daily updates and graphs for the numbers of infected, recovered and deceased Covid-19 patients for virtually every country in the world.
But as long as people keep maintaining the belief that nothing will happen to them, they will refuse to take the necessary precautions that will ease the stress of healthcare professionals and citizens who are most at risk.
Moreover, they may even inspire people to think twice about the seriousness of this pandemic and then they too will take up the habits of not cleaning their hands, wearing their masks and maintaining social distancing.