At a time when major companies like Starbucks, Walmart, and Best Buy have added their locations to the growing number of businesses requiring face masks for customers during the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more of us are having to live with the reality of changing our routines to comply with these new mandates.

How willing you are to accept the face mask requirements greatly depends on personality type.

Writing for, Louisiana State University Communication Studies professor James M. Honeycutt says someone's willingness to comply with the face mask rules depends in large part on that person's core personality traits.

Honeycutt points to the recognized standard of measuring personality types, the Big Five Personality Test, as his guide to predicting how each of the 'big five' personality types will react to being told they must 'mask up'.

Using rankings of agreement on 50 different statements, experts divide respondents into five main personality categories:

  • Openness -  intellectually curious, open to emotion, sensitive to beauty and willing to try new things
  • Conscientiousness -  self-disciplined, conscientious or obedient, striving for achievement
  • Extroversion -  enjoy interacting with people, enthusiastic, action-oriented
  • Agreeableness - considerate, kind, generous, trusting and trustworthy, helpful, and willing to compromise their interests with others
  • Neuroticism - emotionally reactive and vulnerable to stress

Honeycutt's prediction for the person that will be most likely to violate face mask and other social distancing guidelines? Someone who scores lower in openness, conscientiousness, and agreeableness or skews higher in neuroticism.

There's also one very strong non-personality component that also plays a big factor in someone's compliance, or lack of, with coronavirus-related restrictions.


Honeycutt says ideology influences social distancing compliance, which is why he believes Republicans are less likely to adhere to social distancing mandates.

Fun Face Masks

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