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Title: Reduced perceived trustworthiness during face mask wearing
Authors: Gabrieli, Giulio
Esposito, Gianluca
Keywords: Social sciences
Social sciences::Psychology
Issue Date: 2021
Source: Gabrieli, G. & Esposito, G. (2021). Reduced perceived trustworthiness during face mask wearing. European Journal of Investigation in Health, Psychology and Education, 11(4), 1474-1484.
Project: RT10/19 
Journal: European Journal of Investigation in Health, Psychology and Education 
Abstract: To curb the diffusion of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), governments worldwide have introduced different policies, including lockdowns, social distancing, and mandatory mask wearing. Face mask wearing, especially, has an impact on the formation of first impressions, given that when meeting someone for the first time, individuals rely on the only available piece of information, the newly met person’s aesthetic appearance, in order to make initial estimations of other traits, such as competence, intelligence, or trustworthiness. However, face mask wearing affects the aesthetic appearance of an individual, creating uncertainty which, in turn, has been reported to reduce others’ perceived trustworthiness. In this paper, the influence of face mask wearing on strangers’ perceived trustworthiness and aesthetic appearance is assessed to verify the impact of this policy on impression formation. Participants (N = 71) have been instructed to assess the trustworthiness and the aesthetic appearance of a selection of 96 images depicting individuals of different ages (children, adults, and older adults), gender (men and women), and ethnicity (Asians or Caucasians). Participants were randomly divided into two groups: an experimental group and a control group. Participants in the experimental group (N = 38) rated faces of individuals wearing a face mask, while participants in the control group rated the same faces but in the absence of a face mask. Images were presented in random order. For each face, participants were asked to rate the aesthetic appearance and perceived trustworthiness of the stranger on two different 100-point Likert scales. Results demonstrate that (i) the correlation between perceived trustworthiness and aesthetic appearance is not affected by the presence of a face mask, and (ii) age, but not ethnicity and gender, influences the magnitude of differences in perceived trustworthiness levels during mask wearing.
ISSN: 2174-8144
DOI: 10.3390/ejihpe11040105
DOI (Related Dataset): 10.21979/N9/KOAPLW
Schools: School of Social Sciences 
Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine (LKCMedicine) 
Departments: Division of Psychology 
Research Centres: Social and Affective Neuroscience Lab 
Rights: © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (
Fulltext Permission: open
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:LKCMedicine Journal Articles
SSS Journal Articles

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