Psychology Ph.D. Dissertations

Marked: A Policy Capturing Investigation of Job Applicant Tattoos as Stigmatizing Marks in Blue and White Collar Employment

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Advisor

Scott Highhouse (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Michael Zickar (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Mary Hare (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Faulkner Sandra (Committee Member)


People are getting tattooed more often than ever before, and this is particularly true of younger generations. However, little is known about how applicant tattoos influence the employee selection process. This study presented tattoos as stigmatizing marks, and used a policy-capturing methodology to examine the way in which specific dimensions of tattoo stigma – visibility, intentionality, perilousness, and context – are combined when making decisions about the suitability of tattooed applicants for blue and white collar jobs. Relative weights analysis revealed that tattooed applicant suitability was most negatively influenced when applicants had visible tattoos and were applying for white collar work. Additionally, there were differences in how the perilousness and job type cues were used in the decision task that were associated with stereotypical beliefs about tattooed people and right-wing authoritarianism.