The Psychology Behind Why People Won’t Wear Masks

The reason why so many “karens” won’t cover up goes deeper than entitlement

4 min readJul 27, 2020



I’ve always known people were ridiculous, but it took a global pandemic for me to realize how much. Hundreds, sometimes thousands of people, are dying each day, and there’s no real cure. All you can do is try not to get it, and hope that your immune system is strong enough to hold out if you do get it.

I think it’s safe to say one of our biggest defenses against the spread of COVID-19 is masks. Wear a cloth mask out in public, and you protect other people from catching the virus from you.

It’s not a tall order — I’d rank it up there with covering your cough or not sneezing on people.

Yet, people have turned mask-wearing into a big deal. I’m sure we all remember some of the anti-mask protests in May and June — where people across the country railed against legal mandates to wear face masks (in fact, some of those protestors were even armed, but they still got better treatment from law enforcement than anybody protesting for BLM).

More recently, one woman freaked out when her dentist refused to treat her without a mask. Another maskless-man got turned away at a Walmart, and still tried to fight his way inside.

You’d think with all the pushback that health experts were asking people to cut off some toes or pull out teeth — not cover their faces when they went to the grocery store.

So, why all the outrage? Well, here’s why some psychologists think people won’t put on their masks:

Everyone wants to be a rebel

According to Steven Taylor, a clinical psychologist, the anti-mask movement might have to do with rebellion. “People naturally rebel when they’re told what to do, even if the measures could protect them,” he said, “People value their freedoms…they may become distressed or indignant or morally outraged when people are trying to encroach on their freedoms.”

Look, being a rebel can be cool if it means eating ice cream for dinner or sneaking food into the movie theater — but not if it means putting other people’s health at risk.




When I’m not writing, you can usually find me hanging out with my cats