News Release: UAM Psychologist Conducts Study on Mask Wearing Amid Pandemic

Monticello, Ark. – Eric Prichard, an assistant professor of Psychology at the University of Arkansas at Monticello, recently published exploratory research on attitudes towards mask wearing and authoritarian tendencies in the academic journal Frontiers in Psychology. His research focuses on variables that include gender, conspiracy beliefs, authoritarianism, and consistency of handedness as predictors of attitudes toward COVID-19. The study was conducted in summer of 2020 and surveyed 189 American adults. Researchers found that participants with more authoritarian tendencies were less concerned about the virus’s impact on their own and others’ health. These individuals were also found to be less inclined to wear masks or heed advice from experts. Other findings determined that overall, men surveyed tended to be less concerned about the virus, but mask-wearing among men did not tend to be less likely than among those women surveyed. Ultimately, Prichard explains, “There appear to be personality and individual differences which are systematically related to behaviors that increase the spread of the virus.” In a December interview, Prichard told the Psychology Post that “Press around the virus science has likely made the public more aware of science [research] as it is happening, but they might not be as aware of how quickly findings may be modified as an important topic is pursued.” He plans to run another study to assess whether findings can be replicated.

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