Masking The Real You

Throughout history, governments have regulated masks in the interest of maintaining public order. In the 12th century, Pope Innocent III banned masks as part of a crackdown on immorality among the clergy. In 1845, New York State made it illegal for three or more people to wear masks in public.

This, after farmers in the Hudson Valley dressed up as Native Americans and attacked and killed their landlords. Around the world, people don masks for rituals and ceremonies—from the violent masked clowns of the Mexican Yaqui Pascola to the revelers at Carnival celebrations across Europe.

In the past few decades, social scientists have contributed empirical data showing that masks make people more likely to violate norms and rules.

In 1979, Purdue University psychologists, Franklin Miller and Kathleen Rowold, looked at how putting on a mask affected the chance of children breaking rules. The psychologists tracked the behavior of 58 kids on Halloween, some of whom wore masks as part of their costumes.

The children were offered a bowl of candy. They were told they could take two pieces. The kids in masks were more likely to take more candy than they were supposed to. 62 percent of the children in masks broke the two-candy limit compared to 37 percent of those whose faces were visible.