Psychologists Explain Why Some People Still Won't Wear Masks in Public

May 7, 2020
face mask

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Most people in the United States have never had to wear a mask in public and the sight might be a jarring one. However, as businesses and states are becoming serious about people wearing them, there are some who strongly resist. CNN lays out four reasons those people just can't bring themselves to put one on.

  • Some people think wearing masks infringes on their rights. "They may become distressed or indignant or morally outraged when people are trying to encroach on their freedoms," says Steven Taylor, a clinical psychologist and author. 
  • Some people think it makes them seem weak.  "Putting on that mask [to some] is about as blatant as saying, 'Hey, I'm a scaredy cat,'" says  David Abrams, a clinical psychologist.
  • Some people are confused about the need to wear them. The CDC switched gears about whether people needed them and the president himself doesn't wear one. "The ambivalence of mixed messages makes it far easier for people to do whatever they want and make up their own mind," said Abrams.
  • Some people feel mentally and physically uncomfortable.  "If everybody started wearing masks, suddenly, the old way of life is gone," said Abrams. "You've suddenly admitted that this is the new normal. But you don't want to believe that."  Plus, masks can make the face feel hot or fog up glasses.