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Collectivist countries more likely to wear masks

Japan had a mask-wearing rate of 95 percent.
Japan had a mask-wearing rate of 95 percent.
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27 May 2021 02:05:46 GMT9
27 May 2021 02:05:46 GMT9

Arab News Japan

TOKYO: A study published by the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America has highlighted the differences of areas that wear masks to prevent COVID-19.

The study shows that people who live in a collectivist culture were more inclined to use masks to prevent infection. Those who live in individualistic societies tended to believe that mask wearing was an invasion of their freedoms.

The report stated: “People in individualistic cultures may be more apt to prioritize their personal convenience or preference over the collective welfare and therefore less willing to wear masks. A COVID-19 survey found that 64% of Americans who did not wear masks indicated ‘It’s my right as an American to not wear a mask’ or ‘It is uncomfortable.’ A sizable number of people in individualistic cultures refuse to wear masks because they view masks as a symbolic infringement on their personal choice and freedom.”

The report went on to say that individualistic regions saw a large number of “super-spreader” incidents where people gathered in large numbers and at close quarters while refusing to wear masks.

Shinobu Kitayama, President of the Association for Psychological Science was quoted as saying: “It appears as though many Americans have maximized their psychological welfare by not covering their mouths. This behavior, however, has come at a grave cost for the collective.

Each individual is protected as long as many others in the community wear masks. If a majority choose not to wear a mask, then you may not be protected even if you wear a mask. Unfortunately, again and again, many Americans prioritized their personal convenience or preference while ignoring the collective consequences of doing so.”

Individualistic countries such as the United States and Britain had lower mask-wearing rates than collectivist countries such as South Korea, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates. Japan had a mask-wearing rate of 95 percent. These Asian countries had a lower COVID-19 infection rate than the USA and certain European countries.

The report concluded: “Our research suggests that culture fundamentally shapes how people respond to crises like the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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