If you wear a mask incorrectly, such as below your nose or with baggy sides, you might as well not be wearing one at all. When we see someone doing this, not only does it mean that the person isn’t protecting those around them, but it naturally makes us worry that they think they are protecting people when they’re not, thus raising the risk of them being complacent about other precautions like social distancing.
What’s more, if we suspect that the person is knowingly wearing their mask incorrectly, this is likely to arouse our deep-seated dislike of cheats – people who try to surreptitiously put their own interests (in this case, their comfort) above those of the wider community.
Dr Christian Jarrett is a cognitive neuroscientist, science writer and author. He is the Deputy Editor of Psyche, the sister magazine to Aeon that illuminates the human condition through psychology, philosophy and the arts. Jarrett also created the British Psychological Society's Research Digest blog and was the first ever staff journalist on the Society's magazine, The Psychologist. He is author of Great Myths of The Brain and Be Who You Want: Unlocking the Science of Personality Change.