Study: Refusing to Wear a Face Mask Could Mean You’re a Sociopath

  • Not putting on a mask is a d*** move, but isn’t this going a bit far?

There’s not much good that’s come out of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But at least it’s giving us new, fascinating insights about the humans.

In June, a Swiss study discovered what kind of personality traits fueled the toilet paper hoarding brought on by the initial coronavirus panic. Now, a Brazilian team of researchers has found another link between a certain type of COVID-related behavior and a particular personality type.


Namely, they discovered that people who refuse to wear face masks in public just might be sociopaths.

We have been instructed by governmental officials, such as those from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to wear masks to inhibit the spread of the coronavirus. However, there has been and still is a portion of the population worldwide that vehemently refuses to don one.

Luckily, their numbers have dropping as the coronavirus keeps rampaging around the world. According to the Pew Research Center, the percentage of US adults who had worn a mask in public within the last 30 days increased from 65% in June to 85% in August.

Still, some people continue refusing to wear one for various reasons. Others say that forcing them to put on a mask is a violation of their right to self-determination, while others claim that COVID-19 is still nothing but a hoax.

Despite their reasons, though, this new study claims that they have something in common.

So is this that “mask of sanity” thing they keep talking about in crime films?

An Antisocial Pattern

The research team, led by Dr Fabiano Koich Miguel from the State University of Londrina in Brazil, discovered that people who recorded high on “antisocial traits” were less likely to comply with COVID-19 containment measures.

These “antisocial traits” are prevalent in people with the antisocial personality disorder (ASPD). In more common terms, these people are known as sociopaths.

According to the US National Institute of Mental Health, roughly 1% of US population have ASPD. However, unlike popular culture might have you think, these people are not raging murderers.

“The antisocial pattern group presented higher scores in all ASPD typical traits,” the study reads. These typical traits are callousness, deceitfulness, hostility, impulsivity, irresponsibility, manipulative behavior, and risk-taking.

In addition, they rated lower in Affect resonance, a method used to measure empathy. Basically, people exhibiting ASPD traits are less likely to feel things like guilt or remorse.

In general, the research found that “adherence to containment measures is more challenging to people with a pattern of antisociality in comparison to those who have an empathy pattern.”

“These traits explain, at least partially, the reason why people continue not adhering to the containment measures even with the increasing numbers of cases and deaths,” the researchers say.

“Exposing oneself and others to risk, even when it can be avoided, is a typical trait for people with antisocial tendencies and with low levels of empathy,” they add.

Not an Isolated Case

The results of the Brazilian study seem to fall in line with the results of other personality research carried out in the wake of COVID-19. For example, a Polish study found that people who exhibit the “Dark Triad” of personality traits are less likely to comply with COVID-19 measures.

The Dark Triad of personality quirks consists of Machiavellianism (manipulativeness and cynicisim), narcissism, and good old-fashioned psychopathy – that is callousness and impulsiveness.

“The Dark Triad traits are correlated with various behaviors that affect people’s health, suggesting the traits may play a role in responses to the COVID-19 virus,” the study says.

“Those higher, for example, in rivalrous narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy were less likely to comply with governmental restrictions geared toward reducing the spread of the virus.”

Yet another study, this time in the US, also found similar traits. The study’s author, Pavel Blagov from the Whitman College, found that “dark” personality traits, such as meanness, disinhibition, and “overall psychopathy” went hand in hand with lower intent to participate in social distancing and hygiene.

Not only that, Blagov discovered that those exhibiting such traits were even ready to put others at risk of infection, “knowingly and perhaps deliberately”.

Reining ‘Em In

But what do all these results mean? Is everybody who refuses to wear a mask, even at face of possible infection, a sociopath?

Well, no. But they likely have some of the associated personality traits.

The value of the studies, according to the authors, is in better understanding of human psychology in face of crisis. This knowledge could be used to tailor governmental policy and information campaign so that they affect even these people.

“Our findings can be useful for public health policies, e.g. through screenings that demonstrate an elevation in these traits, interventions can be carried out aiming at greater awareness and consequent compliance with containment measures,” the Brazilian study suggests.

Otherwise, if you feel you’re just too good to wear a mask, have you considered wearing a highly fashionable piece of headwear instead? Maybe something from Louis Vuitton?

We’re just saying, the fashion company has just launched a fabulous new face shield. It costs almost $1,000 too, so you know it’s a high-end product worthy only of the most special people.

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