Expert believes seeing political figures in masks influences others to do the same

Expert believe seeing political figures in masks influences others to do the same

Vice President Mike Pence arrives at Love Field in Dallas, Sunday, June 28, 2020. For more than three years, President Donald Trump instilled such fear in the Republican Party’s leaders that most kept criticism of his turbulent leadership or inconsistent politics to themselves. That’s beginning to change. While Trump avoids wearing a mask in public, Pence was pictured this weekend wearing a mask and urged other Americans to do the same.(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

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Political leaders on both sides of the aisle are stressing the importance of wearing masks.

That now includes Republicans like Vice President Mike Pence and the governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson.

On the Democratic side, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says a federal mandate on face coverings is long overdue.

Rodica Damian, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Houston, tells us seeing prominent political figures accept masks will influence individual decisions.

Damian says there’s two main sources of what drives behavior, personality and social context. Identifying with a certain political group adds social context.

“A lot of people who don’t wear masks think they’re not wearing masks because they’re kind of independent thinking, but it’s very likely they’re also following social norms,” said Damian. “They’re just following social norms of a group that thinks you shouldn’t wear masks.”

When it comes to personality, Damian says people who are more responsible, rule-following, and pro-social tend to wear masks. Those who don’t may have higher levels of narcissism or be more impulsive.

“We’re all on a continuum, so I don’t want to put people in categories, so depending on where you fall on that continuum on each of these traits, they’re all going to feed into your decision,” said Damian.

Damian says we should remember that across the country and across party lines, the majority of people are strongly in favor of wearing masks.

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