In the COVID-19 era, one of our best defenses against the virus is everyone wearing masks! But different cultures have different challenges with mask-wearing. Research from cultural psychology suggests that different places need different solutions.
In the spring of 2021, we invited students at EdUHK and HKU to submit designs for a fabric mask contest that applies cultural psychology research. Our challenge to our applicants was: Can you design a mask that will encourage people in Hong Kong or the United States to WEAR FABRIC MASKS?
Cultural psychology research suggests that Americans may resist wearing masks because they hide smiles (a very important to emotional communication in the USA); while Hong Kongers may not consider wearing fabric masks because of being less conscious of their environmental impact.
The five finalist mask designs encourage positive perceptions of masks with images that emphasize cheerfulness, love for the environment, and the universal bond of wearing masks for the sake of others. These winning images are being professionally re-designed for fabric printing, printed on fabric, and sewed into fabric masks in student mask-sewing workshops.
The mask design contest is led by Dr. Emma Buchtel, Department of Psychology, EdUHK, and co-organized by Prof. Laurence J. Wood (Department of Cultural and Creative Arts, EdUHK), Dr. Priscilla Song (Centre for the Humanities and Medicine, HKU), Dr. Joseph Walline (Emergency Medicine, CUHK) and Dr. Li Man Wai (Department of Psychology, EdUHK). It is supported by EdUHK Knowledge Transfer Grant #05940, “Mask wearing behaviors and attitudes: Cultural and individual differences.”