Most pademic restrictions may be on the way out in Ireland, but there's one aspect of the last two years which might see an unlikely lease of life. Researchers at Cardiff University have published new research, which suggests that protective face masks can make wearers look more attractive.
Their study measured how different types of face masks changed the attractiveness of 40 male faces. 43 female participants rated the attractiveness of images of male faces without a mask; wearing a cloth mask; a blue medical face mask and holding a plain black book covering the area a face mask would hide, on a scale of one to 10.
One of the findings was that blue medical masks were found to increase facial attractiveness more than other types of masks. Researcher and expert in the psychology of faces, Dr Michael Lewis, says this was not what was expected.
"The results run counter to the pre-pandemic research where it was thought masks made people think about disease and the person should be avoided. The current research shows the pandemic has changed our psychology in how we perceive the wearers of masks. When we see someone wearing a mask we no longer think 'that person has a disease, I need to stay away’.
"This relates to evolutionary psychology and why we select the partners we do. Disease and evidence of disease can play a big role in mate selection – previously any cues to disease would be a big turn off. Now we can observe a shift in our psychology such that face masks are no longer acting as a contamination cue."
However, the issue of people wearing masks on dating apps like Blind Date and Sky People has already caused a backlash in South Korea. Many people there claim that profiles with only masked up photos can be misleading. Amid growing complaints about people who look dramatically different without masks, some dating app operators are cracking down on these "magikkun" users (from the English word "mask" and the Korean word "sagikkun" which means a fraud).