Trust in the New Normal: The Effect of Face Mask Wearing on Perceived Trustworthiness

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Paul Leheste
Max Graves
Yasmeen Balayah
Luke Delacey
Emily Doetkott


Interpersonal trust is a multifaceted concept that has changed and become integral in everyday interactions throughout the Coronavirus pandemic. Recent pandemic-era research on how wearing face masks affects interpersonal trust has yielded inconclusive results. This study attempted to extrude the true effect through a survey that presented participants with questions referencing masked and non-masked digital faces.  Eighty-eight participants were asked to rank how likely the digital masked and non-masked faces were to possess various socially desirable characteristics as a means of creating an overall “trustworthiness score.” The findings were significant and suggest that participants perceived those who wear a face mask to exhibit more socially desirable characteristics. This finding is possibly due to the perceived protection from disease that participants feel with masked target faces. The finding suggests that wearing a face mask not only protects one’s physical wellbeing, but also promotes an increased social standing.

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Social Sciences, Education and Communication