Masks are the Pandemic Marshmallow Test

“The Stanford marshmallow experiment was a study on delayed gratification in 1972 led by psychologist Walter Mischel, a professor at Stanford University.[1] In this study, a child was offered a choice between one small but immediate reward, or two small rewards if they waited for a period of time. During this time, the researcher left the room for about 15 minutes and then returned. The reward was either a marshmallow or pretzel stick, depending on the child’s preference. In follow-up studies, the researchers found that children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards tended to have better life outcomes, as measured by SAT scores,[2] educational attainment,[3] body mass index (BMI),[4] and other life measures.[5] A replication attempt with a sample from a more diverse population, over 10 times larger than the original study, showed only half the effect of the original study. The replication suggested that economic background, rather than willpower, explained the other half.[6][7]

Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, s.v. “Stanford Marshmallow Experiment,” (accessed December 7, 2020),

It occurs to me that masks might be the pandemic equivalent of the marshmallow experiment.

Best Argument for Wearing a Mask, Post-Pandemic

“Blöthar says wearing his has its advantages.

‘For one thing, people won’t really know what you look like, and that’s a great advantage, especially when you’re trying to commit armed robbery at your local convenience store,’ Blöthar says. ‘The other thing, especially if you’re really ugly, which most humans are … at least you get to walk around and not be as ugly as you usually are. There’s a big plus to that. Another big plus is other people don’t have to look at your ugly mug. And their days are not ruined.'”

—Blöthar the Berserker quoted in Chris Harris, “The Masked Bands’ Survival Guide to Your New Masked Life.” Spin. July 28, 2020.

Or, another way of looking at it.

“Wearing a face mask is simple, cheap, and easy. As I tell people in the medical field, think of a mask kind of like a hat. Most people like hats, except this is a hat for your mouth!”

——Grippo from Kissing Cadance, ibid.