If you think the best way to deal with the pandemic is to disregard health warnings and simply “man up” and “out-tough” the novel coronavirus, you could be in for a nasty surprise.

A new Fairleigh Dickinson University poll finds the “macho man” mentality is a major risk factor for becoming infected with COVID-19.

Dan Cassino, the executive director of the FDU poll, said men who consider themselves “completely masculine” on a sliding scale also are more likely to believe they are tougher than others, “and one way to be tough, you show off your toughness by not wearing masks, to go out and greet people and get into big crowds.”

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He said the survey found men who embrace the “completely masculine” self image are much more likely to get infected with the virus.

“We find that among men who say they are completely masculine about 2.2% report having been diagnosed by a doctor with COVID-19 in the last month compared to just 0.8% of other men,” he said. “That means that men who are trying to show off their masculinity are 2 to 3 times more likely to have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and we have to imagine are much more likely to die of COVID-19.”

The survey found 68% of men place themselves as “completely masculine” on a six-point sliding scale from “completely masculine to “completely feminine,” and these “completely masculine” males tend to be older and less educated.

He said the results of the survey suggest macho men are also less likely to wash their hands and more likely to spend time indoors with larger groups of unmasked people.

“The more that men are trying to show off their masculinity, the fewer precautions they are taking, and that’s a problem not just for them but for everybody else. This is a pandemic; we’re all in it together," he said.

Men who assert a completely masculine gender identity are more likely to disregard recommendations to get a COVID vaccine or fear that the vaccine will cause serious side effects.

About 10% of “completely masculine” men agree that wearing a face mask is dangerous to the health of the wearer, compared to just 6% of other men.

The survey also finds 24% of machos agree with the statement, “we live in a free country, and no one can force me to wear a mask,” compared with 17% of other men, and 18% of the overall population.

The FDU Poll questions were included in the “Understanding America Study,” a nationally representative panel survey of U.S. residents carried out by the University of Southern California. Results described here are based on a sample size of 6,179, surveyed between Jan. 6 and Feb. 1, 2021.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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