Face mask-wearing is important for reducing COVID-19 spread. Masking is a publicly visible behavior and thus, social factors such as descriptive and personal norms, risk images, and impression management concerns are salient and likely influential. Study 1 (N = 381) surveyed participants during the early stages of the pandemic, assessing correlational relationships between social factors and masking intentions. Study 2 (N = 778) replicated Study 1 at a later stage in the pandemic and experimentally manipulated the group to which norms and risk images referred—familiar, unfamiliar, or general others. Study 1 findings revealed that perceived descriptive norms, personal norms, and risk images, together strongly related to face mask-wearing independent of COVID-19 threat perception. Study 2 results revealed that people's impressions of non-mask wearers were less negative and their perceptions of mask-wearing less normative among familiar versus unfamiliar others. People were also less likely to wear masks among familiar versus unfamiliar others. These results indicate that specific care should be taken to develop interventions that will increase masking in the presence of familiar others.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology