Understanding what influences the wearing of face coverings – report on the deliverables of the study
The aim of this study from theme 3 researchers of the PROTECT NCS, was to understand what influences the wearing of face coverings.
This paper seeks to answer 3 key research questions: what is the prevalence of face covering use in work, public transport and indoor leisure settings; how has the prevalence of face covering use in work, public transport and indoor leisure settings changed over time, and; what factors determine face covering use, as well as testing the hypothesis ‘people who form if-then plans (“implementation intentions”) will be more likely to wear face coverings than people who do not.’
The research was carried out using a randomised controlled trial, in collaboration with a survey panel company (YouGov). Participants reported decreasing levels of face covering over time in work, public transport settings and indoor leisure contexts as rules around the wearing of face coverings relaxed. Perceptions of capabilities, opportunities and motivations to wear face coverings were consistently associated with the actual wearing of face coverings across the three settings, with marked decreases in motivations over time.
Decreases in motivations seem to explain best the reasons for declining levels of face covering. Implementation intentions could be effective in promoting reuptake of face covering, but likely only in the context of a clear threat (e.g., declared pandemic) and/or legal mandate.