Why isn’t everyone wearing a mask?

Peter writes:

Picking up groceries at Sobeys this afternoon, an environment that clearly qualifies as one where “physical distancing cannot always be maintained,” only about a quarter of shoppers were wearing masks (and, additionally, any pretence of social distancing was abandoned by many).

I think one answer to that question could be risk perception, whereby others don’t see the same risk as I.

The degree of risk associated with a given behavior is generally considered to represent the likelihood and consequences of harmful effects that result from that behavior. To perceive risk includes evaluations of the probability as well as the consequences of an uncertain outcome. There are three dimensions of perceived risk – perceived likelihood (the probability that one will be harmed by the hazard), perceived susceptibility (an individual’s constitutional vulnerability to a hazard), and perceived severity (the extent of harm a hazard would cause). Risk perceptions are central to many health behavior theories.

Add to that perhaps a little bit of group think, we are more willing to do something when those in our tribe are also doing the same. When beliefs become shared by social groups they are very difficult to change, even in the face of scientific evidence. There are a great deal of people who think the pandemic is largely fiction, even here on this beautiful Isle.

Wearing a mask is only one of the many things you should do to mitigate the risk of virus transmission, but it’s possibly the easiest. How many people are religiously washing and disinfecting their hands?

See also: What Happened When Americans Had to Wear Masks During the 1918 Flu Pandemic