Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Face-touching behaviour as a possible correlate of mask-wearing: a video observational study of public place incidents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Abstract

Most countries in the world have recommended or mandated face masks in some or all public places during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, mask use has been thought to increase people's face-touching frequency and thus risk of self-inoculation. Across two studies, we video-observed the face-touching behaviour of members of the public in Amsterdam and Rotterdam (the Netherlands) during the first wave of the pandemic. Study 1 (n = 383) yielded evidence in favour of the absence of an association between mask-wearing and face-touching (defined as touches of face or mask), and Study 2 (n = 421) replicated this result. Secondary outcome analysis of the two studies-analysed separately and with pooled data sets-evidenced a negative association between mask-wearing and hand contact with the face and its t-zone (i.e. eyes, nose and mouth). In sum, the current findings alleviate the concern that mask-wearing has an adverse face-touching effect.