Date of Defense


Date of Graduation




First Advisor

Zoann Snyder

Second Advisor

Jesse Smith

Third Advisor

Katherine Tierney


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic greatly impacted many aspects of life. Due to the airborne transmission of this respiratory disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a statement in early April of 2020 recommending that people wear face masks as part of an effort to reduce the spread of the virus (CDC, 2020). Mask-wearing presented a plethora of adjustments in many areas of life. In this literature review, we focus on the sociological impacts that mask-wearing had on sociability and approachability during the COVID-19 pandemic. Studying the sociological impact of COVID-19 serves to inform both mental health professionals and sociologists about the effects of the pandemic on socialization. This information can then be used in future pandemic situations to create effective intervention strategies that will mitigate the negative effects that were observed during the COVID-19 pandemic. This review examined existing research pertaining to how facial features and individual mask-wearing habits affect factors of perceived approachability. We then related these findings to the observed changes in sociability during the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to our research, it was anticipated that mask-wearing would improve one's perceived attractiveness but decrease their ability to communicate through verbal and nonverbal behaviors. The results from the current literature indicated that, in general, mask-wearing averaged appearances and increased perceived attractiveness most significantly for individuals with low baseline attractiveness. Additionally, mask-wearing was found to have negatively impacted verbal and nonverbal communication, acting as a deterrent to approachability. We also examine the effect that mask-wearing had on related social factors, such as trustworthiness and first impressions. Lastly, we discuss moderating factors–such as race, masking ideology, social anxiety, gender, mode of perception, and degree of hearing loss–that affect the degree of impact that mask-wearing has on perceived attractiveness and communication. In conclusion, masking during the COVID-19 pandemic impacted individuals' perceived approachability. Future directions of research include a focus on masks' effect on individuals with compromised immune systems, as well as research to examine if pre-COVID attitudes toward mask-wearing return.


Co-authored with Lindsay Kovach

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access

Thesis Presentation.pdf (934 kB)
Defense Presentation

Thesis Reflection Paper DeHaan.pdf (37 kB)