man face mask

People wearing face masks are deemed to be more attractive than when they have nothing covering their faces, according to a new study.
People wearing face masks are deemed to be more attractive than when they have nothing covering their faces, according to a new study.

Face masks have become a common sight around Britain in response to the global Covid pandemic.

And Cardiff University researchers claim that the masks make both men and women more appealing on the eye.

The study, which began in February 2021, asked 43 women to rate images of men based on attractiveness.

The pictures were shown with a two different kinds of face mask, with a book partially covering the faces and with nothing covering the faces at all.

Both a blue medical mask and a plain cloth mask were used in the study, and participants said that those faces wearing surgical masks were the most attractive.

Dr Michael Lewis of the university's school of psychology said that the study proved our preferences have changed over time - with face masks deemed to make a person less attractive before the pandemic.

He said: 'Our study suggests faces are considered most attractive when covered by medical face masks. This may be because we're used to healthcare workers wearing blue masks and now we associate these with people in caring or medical professions. At a time when we feel vulnerable, we may find the wearing of medical masks reassuring and so feel more positive towards the wearer.'

Comment: What it more likely means is that these women are more attracted to compliance than they are to biological cues of attractiveness. That, or the pictures used in the study were of some pretty ugly dudes who actually do look better with their face half-covered.

See: Study finds anyone still wearing a mask at this point is probably just super ugly

Lewis added that it was possible face masks made people more attractive because it directed the participants' attention towards the eyes.

The results of the study have been published in the journal Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications - while the results of a second study, asking men to rate women's attractiveness have not yet been released, but Dr Lewis said the results were similar.

It comes after another study, conducted in Florida, in the US, suggested that face masks can drastically blunt the spread of Covid by halving how far contagious particles can travel.

University of Central Florida researchers found droplets emitted by infected people when they speak can float in the air for 4ft. Coughing propels them even further, to around 4.5ft.

But the particles, which can carry Covid, only travel around 2ft when people wear cloth masks.

Triple-layer disposable masks worked even better, cutting the distance travelled by the droplets to just 0.5ft.

Experts argued the findings offered proof that stringent social distancing guidelines could safely be relaxed, as long as masks are worn.

The World Health Organization still recommends people stay 3ft apart in public spaces, and avoid crowds and large gatherings.

England did away with its controversial 'one metre plus' rule last year, but No10 still recommends people avoid close contact with anyone they don't live with.

In Scotland, 'one metre' social distancing is required in pubs, bars and restaurants, and in Wales 'two metre' distancing is in place in public spaces.

The US also still has social distancing up to 6ft in places — but it has said children wearing masks in schools only need to keep a 3ft distance.

Evidence on how Covid spreads has shifted since the pandemic began.

Policymakers originally urged people to wash their hands because it was feared the virus spread through touching contaminated surfaces.

But an array of studies have since suggested that the pathogen actually transmits primarily through the air.

Like for other respiratory diseases, Covid sufferers emit tiny virus-laden droplets when they breath, speak or sing.

Once these are suspended in the air, they can then be taken in by another person — allowing the infection to spread.

Scientists asked 14 participants — aged in their twenties and thirties — to recite a phrase and cough for five minutes.

It is thought that none of the participants had Covid when they took the test, although it is not clear how the results would change with an infected person.

They were asked to do the experiment under three scenarios, according to the study published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

Specialist machines tracked how far the droplets travelled from the individuals in all directions.