Entertainment Celebrity ‘Behaviour is very contagious’: How famous faces are saving lives by masking up
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‘Behaviour is very contagious’: How famous faces are saving lives by masking up

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They can sing, act and dance – and now these Hollywood A-listers can add ‘life saver’ to their ever-expanding repertoires.

Celebrities all over the world have been doing their part to help out during the coronavirus pandemic by showing us that public safety can be cool.

So forget chunky headbands, micro-purses and statement necklaces – this year’s biggest accessory is the humble face mask.

Sometimes fun, sometimes fancy, but always functional (well, almost always – looking at you, Billie Eilish), seeing your favourite celebrity rock a face mask reminds us that we’re all in this together.

Billie Eilish
Billie Eilish proves fashion overrides function, but only if you’re at the Grammys. Photo: Getty 

According to registered psychologist Lyn Bender, seeing celebrities sporting face masks (or performing any other behaviour, for that matter), actually makes the rest of us more likely to jump on board.

“We emulate people we like,” Ms Bender said.

So if someone we see as an authoritative, knowledgeable person is behaving in a certain way we are more likely to do it.”

“That’s why, for example, when Donald Tump refused to wear a mask, those who admire him or find him credible would then be likely to be influenced by that, you know, ‘Well he’s not wearing one’.”

Before you jump down the throat of the nearest Instagram influencer, imitating the behaviour of celebrities isn’t a fad, either.

“If you go back to things like cigarette smoking … advertising companies do their research and these things work. They get celebrities to encourage behaviours that are usually lucrative for the companies,” Ms Bender said.

“If a celebrity wears [a face mask] and manages to make it look glamorous and attractive, if you’re motivated by things like that and think that person’s pretty attractive, you’ll think, ‘Oh, I might wear one’.

“But it could also go the other way – we have yet to see our Prime Minister wearing a mask.”

Although Scott Morrison seems to have avoided the mask movement entirely, we can all rest easy knowing our favourite Friends star is throwing her star power behind the cause.

Jennifer Aniston took to Instagram recently to highlight the importance of wearing a mask.

“I understand masks are inconvenient and uncomfortable. But don’t you feel that it’s worse that businesses are shutting down,” Aniston wrote.

“This simple and effective recommendation is being politicised at the expense of people’s lives. And it really shouldn’t be a debate.”

If Kanye West can run for President, don’t we deserve Aniston for Prime Minister?

View this post on Instagram

I understand masks are inconvenient and uncomfortable. But don’t you feel that it’s worse that businesses are shutting down… jobs are being lost… health care workers are hitting absolute exhaustion. And so many lives have been taken by this virus because we aren’t doing enough. ⠀ ⠀ I really do believe in the basic goodness of people so I know we can all do this 🥰 BUT still, there are many people in our country refusing to take the necessary steps to flatten the curve, and keep each other safe. People seem worried about their “rights being taken away” by being asked to wear a mask. This simple and effective recommendation is being politicized at the expense of peoples’ lives. And it really shouldn’t be a debate 🙏🏼 ⠀ ⠀ If you care about human life, please… just #wearadamnmask 😷 and encourage those around you to do the same ❤️

A post shared by Jennifer Aniston (@jenniferaniston) on

But it’s not just celebrities who have the power to persuade.

Ms Bender said that, for the most part, we are easily influenced by whatever our peers are doing, especially when a behaviour is exhibited en masse.

“With mask wearing, it’s more the critical mass factor,” Ms Bender said.

“If you go to the supermarket and you see more people wearing a mask, you’re more likely to adopt that behaviour.

Behaviour is very contagious. That’s why fashions happen.

“We’re very, very influenced by what others do, and what’s the norm.”

So while you may not have 175 million Instagram followers à la Kim Kardashian, you too could be an influencer at your local Woolies, simply by donning your best mask.