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Published in: Journal of Business and Psychology 1/2022

07-03-2021 | Original Paper

Visible Tattoos as a Source of Employment Discrimination Among Female Applicants for a Supervisory Position

Authors: Christine A. Henle, Ted H. Shore, Kevin R. Murphy, Alyssa D. Marshall

Published in: Journal of Business and Psychology | Issue 1/2022

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Abstract

Although tattoos have increased in popularity, they may put individuals at a disadvantage when seeking employment. Drawing on the justification-suppression model and the stereotype content model, we propose that job applicants with visible tattoos experience prejudice in hiring and starting salary recommendations because they are stereotyped as less competent and warm than those without visible tattoos. In Study 1, we compared equally qualified Caucasian female applicants in their mid to late 20s with no visible tattoos, a mild visible tattoo, and extreme visible tattoos for the position of a sales manager. Tattooed applicants were less likely to be hired, especially if they had extreme visible tattoos, and were offered lower salaries and rated lower on competence (but not warmth) than applicants without visible tattoos. Furthermore, competence mediated the relationship between visible tattoos and hiring and salary recommendations. In Study 2, we examined if young Caucasian female applicants with visible tattoos can overcome prejudice through their job qualifications and found they were able to mitigate salary discrimination, but not hiring discrimination by being highly qualified. In Study 3, we proposed that young Caucasian female applicants with visible tattoos can neutralize discrimination by being highly qualified and having volunteer experience. However, volunteering did not mitigate prejudice related to visible tattoos. Our findings suggest that it is difficult for applicants with visible tattoos to overcome discrimination.
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Footnotes
1
The results of the ANOVAs from all the pilot studies are available upon request from the authors.
 
2
We found virtually no relationship between participant age and the hiring and salary ratings given to applicants; participant age explained less than 1% of the variance in the ratings. Similarly, there was very little relationship between having body art and applicant ratings. One key recommendation of recent reviews of the use of control variables in the organizational sciences is that control variables that are essentially uncorrelated with the dependent variables should normally be avoided (e.g., Becker, 2005; Bernerth, Cole, Taylor, & Walker, 2018). On that basis, we decided not to control for participants’ age or body art.
 
3
Cohen (1988) notes that the multivariate R2 between a set of dependent variables and a set of independent variables in one-way MANOVA is given by 1 − value of Wilks’ lambda. In more complex designs, the value of Wilks’ lambda is adjusted slightly for shrinkage (See Steyn & Ellis, 2009, p. 114).
 
4
In Study 3, we chose to include only extreme visible tattoos because there were no differences between mild and extreme tattoos in Study 2.
 
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Metadata
Title
Visible Tattoos as a Source of Employment Discrimination Among Female Applicants for a Supervisory Position
Authors
Christine A. Henle
Ted H. Shore
Kevin R. Murphy
Alyssa D. Marshall
Publication date
07-03-2021
Publisher
Springer US
Published in
Journal of Business and Psychology / Issue 1/2022
Print ISSN: 0889-3268
Electronic ISSN: 1573-353X
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-021-09731-w

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