Date of Award

Fall 2021


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Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS) in Psychology: Clinical




Facemasks have been empirically shown as one of the most effective non-pharmaceutical interventions in preventing the spread of COVID-19. However, research shows that individuals identifying as politically conservative are less likely to comply with mask mandates and engage in less mask wearing. This study investigated five variables that could explain the relationship between political identity and less mask wearing: loyalty to ingroup and obedience to authority moral foundations, trust in science, belief in conspiracy theories, and psychological reactance. Using an online survey system, 138 U.S. adults completed several measures of political identity, mask wearing, and the hypothesized covariates. A simple regression model showed a significant negative relationship between conservative political identity and mask wearing. A multiple regression model including the hypothesized covariates showed that the inclusion of these variables did not account for the relationship between political identity and mask wearing, which was still significant, and only psychological reactance was significant. A supplemental analysis indicated that the covariates seemed to account for about 54% of the relationship between conservative political identity and less mask wearing. Other factors are discussed that could potentially account for the remaining variance in this relationship. This line of research may aid public health officials in their recommendations to society so that populations with low adherence to pandemic health-related behaviors are more receptive to them. Achieving this could help curb the spread of COVID-19 and protect countless individuals.