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How psychology can explain pushback against mandatory masks

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  • How psychology can explain pushback against mandatory masks

    CBC Radio Posted: Jul 03, 2020 7:26 PM ET

    Written by Jason Vermes. Produced by Mouhamad Rachini.

    As governments try to clamp down on the spread of COVID-19, mandatory mask laws are becoming more common — and that has a vocal minority pushing back in a phenomenon best explained by psychology, says Dr. Steven Taylor.

    "For some people, when their freedoms are violated, or they perceive their freedoms are violated, they respond with something called psychological reactance," said Taylor, a clinical psychologist at the University of British Columbia, and author of The Psychology of Pandemics.

    "What we're seeing here is exactly what happened during the 1918 and 1919 so-called Spanish flu pandemic, where people were resisting to wear masks because they thought their civil liberties were being violated."

    "There's been some recent surveys of Canadians that actually showed that those who mask do better with the other public health measures of hand hygiene and physical distance," said Dr. Amy Tan ...

    In Canada and the U.S., the messaging around masks has been confusing. Until recent weeks, officials have discouraged using masks, and other personal protective equipment, in hopes of protecting stockpiles for health-care workers.

    Now, many have changed their tune — and that has led to confusion, Hirji says.

    "There isn't the clarity, and a clear message, coming from all of our leaders right now," he said.