Not wearing a mask is linked to antisocial traits, study finds

Those who don’t comply with Covid-19 containment measures were found to be more callous, hostile and deceitful

Tuesday 27 October 2020 11:49 GMT
Dr Fauci says slow motion video of speaking shows need for masks

Scientists in Brazil have linked resistance to Covid-19 safety measures, such as wearing a mask, with antisocial personality traits.

Their study was the first of its kind in Latin America and surveyed over 1,500 people aged 18-73.

Using a questionnaire, the scientists sought to identify the participants’ affective resonance - their impulse to act on feelings stirred by another person - and asked a series of personality questions about how well certain statements represented their behaviour on a scale.

The survey also asked about compliance with Covid-19 containment measures over time, such as mask wearing.

When profiles were analysed, two were identified: an antisocial pattern profile who were resistant to Covid-19 safety measures and an empathy pattern profile who were compliant.

The antisocial profile was linked to higher scores in the personality questions related to “callousness, deceitfulness, hostility, impulsivity, irresponsibility, manipulativeness, and risk-taking”, antisocial traits which, the study notes, “are typically present in people diagnosed with Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD)". This group also had lower scores in affective resonance.

The empathy pattern profile showed higher scores in affective resonance and lower scores in the traits associated with ASPD.

The team who conducted the study said they hoped the findings would help to persuade health officials to do more to educate people and influence their policies.

"Through screenings that demonstrate an elevation in these [ASPD] traits, interventions can be carried out aiming at greater awareness and consequent compliance with containment measures”, the team explained.

While worldwide protests have taken place surrounding mask wearing, their effectiveness continues to be proven in a growing number of studies. 

An international report published in The Lancet, which analysed data from 172 studies in 16 countries, found that by wearing a face mask there is just a 3 per cent chance of catching Covid-19.

On Tuesday 22 September, Boris Johnson announced new rules on face coverings, increasing the number of places in England where it is mandatory to wear one.

Several groups are exempt from the new rules, such as children under the age of 11, people with certain physical and mental impairments and in situations where wearing a mask may result in severe distress. 

You can find out who is exempt from wearing face coverings here.

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