Wearing a facemask whenever stepping outside has been mandatory under the new coronavirus pandemic regulations but there are people who don’t comply with these instructions. Not only they put their health at risk but also may expose other people to coronavirus or other associated conditions. But the new study has highlighted a largely ignored area that it actually represents an unusual behavior suggesting these people may be sociopaths.
Their definition of a sociopath doesn’t only confine to the wearing facemasks but also covers non-compliance to follow social distancing or practicing good hygiene despite the health risks.
Usually, the term sociopath refers to a person who is suffering from an antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) and they may not be able to understand what others feel or say. This behavior often makes them the ‘rule breaker’ or to take sudden impulsive decisions without evaluating the risk or the guilt that it may cause later.
Fabiano Koich Miguel and his research team from the Universidade Estadual de Londrina studied these behaviors to understand why are people not following the guidelines provided to them for controlling the coronavirus pandemic.
The survey reports data from 1,578 adults in Brazil, all of which were asked about how they are complying with the latest COVOD-19 warnings. One question in this survey was about if they find it necessary to use protection (facemask) or maintain social distance or wash hands more often during this pandemic.
They categorized the participants into two groups, based on their responses. One was the empathy group while the other was named anti-social group. There were nearly 1,200 people in the empathy group all of which understood the importance of these pandemic measures. On the other side, 400 people were added to the anti-social group based on their responses which mainly refused to comply with the general guidelines on pandemic control and management.
Based on these results, the researchers came to the conclusion that these people may carry a high risk to people around them because they are not cooperating to control the viral spread. Mostly, their interactions are based on their personal benefits otherwise they like to remain away from the limelight. This same group was identified as facemask opposers and non-compliance with hand hygiene and social distancing guidelines.
This study explains important social traits that may directly affect any country’s pandemic response. These traits especially with lower compliance with the safety measures are somehow linked with an increased number of COVID-19 cases and deaths.
But Miguel thinks that these findings should be made a base for determining the decision of a person for not wearing a mask. It doesn’t mean that whenever a person refuses to wear a face mask it is because he is a sociopath. It’s not the complete picture and there are many other factors that may also influence his decision. For example, many people don’t wear a facemask because of disabilities.
Another study from Poland has produced similar results that people who possess psychopathic and narcissistic attributes are more likely to ignore the precautionary warnings for coronavirus. They don’t follow good hand hygiene, maintain social distancing, or wear a face mask. But to evaluate the failures in coronavirus pandemic, personality trait like these is just one factor. More research can explain if these behaviors are specifically linked with disease contraction and spread.