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Do Tattoos Affect How People View You In The Workplace? Let’s Find Out!


Neville

Neville tatoos flexing

I've always wondered if tattoos have an affect on how people view you....particularly in the workplace.

Many companies have a "No Tattoo Showing Policy" in place, especially for very professional roles.

So we did an experiment:

Keep in mind the tattoos we are testing must be EXTREMELY VISIBLE, so we're not talking about 1 or 2 hidden tattoos. The tattoo's we're testing are going to be very very visible.


Sam with No tattoos:sam-no-tattoos

Sam with arm and neck tattoos:

sam-with-tattoos

Sam's Eye Tracking Charts:

sam-parr-tattoo-visual-analysis-.png

Sam's Total Ratings:sam-photo-ratings.png

Sam's Tattoo Conclusion:

Social: It seems Sam got (+50) Cool Points for rocking the tattoos!

Dating: There was a significant drop (-66) for dating. Judging on the feedback, the prominent neck tattoo is what people disliked.

Business: It seems Sam lost a few points (-14) with tattoos in the workplace.


 

Noah without tattoos:

Noah-no-tattoos.png

Noah with arm and neck tattoos:

Noah-with-tattoos.png

Noah's Eye Tracking Charts:

noah-tattoo-visual-analysis.png

Noah's Total ratings:

noah-photo-ratings.png

 

Noah's Tattoo Conclusion:

Social: It seems Noah got (+23) Cool Points for rocking the tattoos!

Dating: There was a strong drop (-48) for dating. I'm guessing it's the neck tattoos causing this.

Business: Noah lost a bunch of points (-65) with tattoos in the workplace. His "Business" picture without the tattoos was sky high, but it seems perception of the tattoos in a business setting was negative on this one.

 

 


 

 

Jack without tattoos:

Jack-no-tattoos.png

Jack with full tattoo sleeve:

Jack-with-tattoos.png

Jack's Eye Tracking Charts:

jack-tattoo-visual-analysis.png

Jack's Total Ratings:

jack-photo-ratings.png

 

Jack's Tattoo Conclusion:

Social: It seems Jack got (-2) points off his score for rocking the tattoos. I would say this is not enough to warrant as significant.

Dating: There was a super small drop (-4) for dating. I think Jack didn't drop in ranking too much because there's no neck tattoo.

Business: Jack dropped a decent amount (-33) with his tattoo sleeve in what's supposed to be a professional photo.

 


Sara without tattoos:

Sara-no-tattoos.png

Sara with arm and neck tattoos:

Sara-with-tattoos.png

Sara's Eye Tracking Charts:

sara-tattoo-visual-analysis.png

Sara's Full Ratings:

sara-photo-ratings.png

 

Sara's Tattoo Conclusion:

Social: It seems Sara got dinged (-6) points for rocking tattoos in a social context. That's not much, and I would say not significant enough to count.

Dating: However on dating there was definitely an overall drop (-34).

Business: It seems there was a (0) point drop with tattoos in the workplace for Sara's "Business" photo.

 

 


Sara without tattoos:

Sara-2-no-tattoos.png

Sara with full body arm, legs, neck tattoos:

Sara-2-with-tattoos.png

Sara's Eye Tracking Charts:

sara-2-tattoo-visual-analysis.png

Sara's Total Ratings:

sara-2-photo-ratings.png

Sara's Tattoo Conclusion:

Social: It seems Sara got a slight ding (-4) Cool Points for rocking the tattoos!

Dating: There was a super significant drop (-147) for dating on this set. Judging on the feedback, the vast amount of tattoos prompted this.

Business: Sara lost points (-25) with tattoos in the workplace. I'm actually surprised this number wasn't a bit higher because of the large amount of tattoos showing.

There were two notes on Sara's "Business" photo regarding the tattoos:

"Would prefer without sunglasses. For business, may want just your head. This would be an excellent social/dating photo, though, as you seem very happy and relaxed."

"That many tattoos are an issue for me personally."

 


 

Linda wearing dress without tattoos:

Linda-no-tattoos.png

Linda wearing dress with chest tattoos:

Linda-with-tattoos.png

Linda's Eye Tracking Charts:

linda-1-tattoo-visual-analysis.png

Linda's Total ratings:

linda-photo-ratings-2.png

 

Linda's Tattoo Conclusion:

Social: Linda got robbed of social points with tattoos (-26).

Dating: However Linda got bonus points (+20) for dating. Seems like some people preferred the tattoos in this case!

Business: Looks like she also got MORE POINTS for having tattoos (+25) in this picture. Seems the tattoos were mellow enough, and the picture good enough to where people didn't deduct points for these tattoos.

 


Linda wearing swimsuit without tattoos:

Linda-2-no-tattoos.png

Linda wearing swimsuit with full body tattoos:

Linda-2-with-tattoos.png

Linda's Eye Tracking Charts:

linda-2-tattoo-visual-analysis.png

Linda's Total Ratings:

linda-photo-ratings-.png

 

Linda's Tattoo Conclusion:

Social: It seems "Yakuza Linda" got (-24) points off social for the large amount of tattoos.

Dating: The full body tattoos didn't seem to bode well for dating with a (-44) point drop.

Business: Points were lost on this photo (-28) with tattoos (not that this photo was terribly well suited for a "Business" photo in the first place)!

 


Neville without tattoos:

Nev-no-tattoos.png

Neville with tattoos:

Neville medhora with tattoos

Neville's Eye Tracking Charts:

nev-tattoo-visual-analysis.png

Neville Total Ratings:

nev-photo-ratings.png

 

Neville's Tattoo Conclusion:

Social: It seems I (Neville) got (-44) points taken off for this social photo.

Dating: Seems tattoos added (+16) points for dating.

Business: There were (+15) points for having tattoos in this "Business" photo which is a bit surprising. Guess if I'm gonna be more valuable at work I just need to get a full set of tattoos 🤣

 

 

So....do tattoos affect people's perception in the workplace?

We lined up all the Business ratings "Without Tattoos" and "With Tattoos" here:

tattoo perception business ratings

Of course this small experiment can't account for individual public perception of tattoos, but we hope you enjoyed it!

If you're interested in more photo rating experiments, checkout our How To Choose The Right Image For Social Media post.

Sincerely,

Neville N. Medhora - Fake Tattoo'er

Neville tatoos flexing

 

P.S. Do you have any tattoos? Have you ever faced any good or bad effects from having them??


User Feedback

Recommended Comments



Such a comprehensive look at tattoos. I though it was going to be an opinion polling but this was far better. Great work Nev!
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Guest Edward

Posted

man, the photos do have a real feel to it, great experiment by the way!
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Guest Dr. Brian Jackson

Posted

While this was a great experiment, you used no minorities, such as African Americans or Latinos. How is this group viewed with tattoos is the question.
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Guest Brandon

Posted

I’m curious how the results would be if you didn’t use neck tattoos in the experiment. I have several visible tattoos on my arms, but there’s a stigma attached to neck tats—you’re “hardcore.” It’s like once you get ink beyond where clothing ends, something changes (hands, knuckles, and neck). Great post!
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Guest Julie Spears

Posted

I have one and the only negative feedback I’ve been given was from my mother. She likes to tell me I should have got a butterfly and that I can still get it covered by a butterfly.

But really, who wants a butterfly when you can have an Egyptian eye?

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I think sometimes tattoos, especially not hidden, show that someone is more of an individual less conformist, and more of a risk taker, which could actually be perceived as a good thing in today’s work environment. I would love to run this experiment with myself - I’m curious how people perceive me in general, and with tattoos or piercings would add to the experiment.
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Guest Cathy goodwin

Posted

The age of the audience as well as the age, attractiveness and dress of the models will probably make a big difference. The guys were wearing casual t-shirts. The women were wearing fairly revealing casual outfits and were very young and attractive.

Personally I hate needles and can’t imagine going through the pain, so tattoos make me wince.

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Guest Jeffrey Smith

Posted

I have several, and one half sleeve. I have been discriminated against for it showing. I was not allowed to use a particular golf course despite having appropriate dress code unless I wore long sleeves to cover the part that showed believe my golf shirt sleeve (about three inches).
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Guest Helena Bouchez

Posted

Agree with Brandon, especially neck tattoos, are another level. Next comes face tattoos. Even tattoo collectors look askance at face tattoos. I have about 30 hours worth of work around my waist and at least until I get in better shape, no one but my hubs will see those (and he admits they don't even register anymore).I did that on purpose because I wanted them but didn't want to commit to dealing with the perception issue for the rest of my life. Generally, I think if the tattoos are really good, they are perceived better. If the tats are too random and not very well done (bad drawing, blown out, etc.) then it looks like you got them in the joint. And you know that ain't good for perception...unless you're a criminal.
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I think the clothing bias was also in effect here as mentioned. If you ran it again with the males dressed better (button-downs, maybe even a deconstructed blazer with rolled sleeves) I’m sure the results would be different.

Also, the tattoos you photoshopped in were pretty ludicrous.

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Was this a general audience test or business professionals that were doing the rating?

Basically what were the demographics of the raters?

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Guest Stefan

Posted

I have several Tattoos on my arms and legs (around 20 in various sizes). Some are perceived as quite aggressive and/or insulting in the catholic and conservative country where I live. It happened only once, that a client asked me after a personal meeting, why I am tattooed. Also with a slight negative voice.

Fortunately my boss helped me in this situation and said that the way somebody looks is not going to have any impact on the way somebody works. Also he told the client, that it's none of his business, if somebody from the team has tattoos.

In general I'd say it's highly inappropriate and rude to ask somebody you don't know well for a reason why and/or meaning of a tattoo, due to the fact that the meaning and reasons of tattoos are often a very personal matter. Some clearly visible neck/face/knuckle tattoos may be bad if there's a business outfit/uniform required in a job. But more and more people will get used to tattoos and I think in about ten years the situation will be different as well.

Especially in tech & digital marketing jobs, where people are casually dressed (at least here in Europe), I don't see why a visible tattoo should have any negative impact. The way somebody looks like should never influence the decision of hiring/employing them.

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Guest Lorna

Posted

I have 10 tattoos on my body. Years ago, I applied in a children's museum as a tour guide. They told me that I would get the job if I would hide my tattoos. I said it's alright with me but I have to be myself and show my tattoos as soon as I'm out of the place and it's already past my work hours. I got the job but I didn't feel like I was judged at all for my tattoos. I understand the museum's take on my tattoos given maybe that it would take some explaining to do to parents and children as well if they get to see all the inked designs on my body. I was still respected despite having a lot of tattoos on my body.
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I GOT MY FACE TATTOOED ON MY FACE BUT IT IS A BIT OFF CENTER SO PEOPLE ARE MORE UPSET BY IT THAN IMPRESSED. I THOUGHT IT WOULD MAKE ME APPEAR YOUNGER BUT LOOKING BACK IT WAS JUST A BAD DECISION. I AM NOT ALLOWED NEAR CHILDREN

GOOD ARTICLE THANKS NEVILLE. DON'T WORRY I HAVE COME TO TERMS WITH MY MISTAKE AND THIS POST DOES NOT MAKE ME JEALOUS. YOU HAVE NICE BODIES AND FACES AND SHIRTS CHERISH THEM

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Doesn't it seem like everyone is getting or already have tattoos these days?

According to: https://www.statisticbrain.com/tattoo-statistics/

"40% of adults in the U.S. ages 26 – 40" have a tattoo...

 

Conformist:

[kuh n-fawr-mist]

noun

1. A person who conforms, especially unquestioningly, to the usual practices or standards of a group, society, etc.

2. Of or characterized by conforming, especially in action or appearance.

3 .(often initial capital letter) a person who conforms to the usages of an established church, especially the Church of England.

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Neville your social experiments are hilarious but actually speak to wider truths in society! I have one tattoo based on Aesop’s story about a dog and a wolf. The theme is being free. You can see the tattoo here: https://www.instagram.com/p/uRtB7SQxSG/

Good effects: It’s a daily reminder for myself. Have more character without a shirt (as if my Indian torso built like Amir Khan wasn’t enough). Adds a bit of mystery, making most girls wonder “how crazy is this guy really” haha

Bad effects: Being told to keep my shirt on if when I meet her parents. Makes for some difficult pool parties.🦆

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Guest Ysmay

Posted

I have 7 tattoos, and all easy to cover up so mostly the feedback has been fine, especially since I started working for myself. I can adjust based on the social situation and nobody has to know.

But in my early twenty’s I worked for a well-known multi-national purveyor of coffee. At the time the dress code was white or black shirts and khakis. My manager hired me knowing about my (at the time) lone tattoo on my back. He’d seen it in a social setting.

First week on the job he started criticising me for wearing the white shirts because my back tattoo may have been seen under it by customers since it’s black ink. He made my life hell over that and having a tongue piercing, which I took out for work but he said people could still tell (also something he knew when he hired me). I ended up quitting shortly thereafter. I am delighted now that they hire people with visible tattoos.

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Guest Stefan

Posted

Been there done that. Always a fun thing to do when meeting conservative family members and you're wearing a long sleeve & long trousers in mid summer at 35°C.
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Guest Tyler Malinky

Posted

I am heavily tattooed including neck, hands, fingers and even a couple small stars on my face. I am also a successful entrepreneur. I tattooed the backs of my hands at age 19 specifically as a 'job killer'. I knew I had skills that would let me get an 'easy', well-paid job and I wanted to ensure I would make my own path. It worked out, as I started my first company that same year, which gave me skills I parlayed into current businesses. While I know it can cause some difficulties or potential roadblocks, it is something I am willing to deal with because 1.) It is way too late to go the other way and not be tattooed and 2.) Getting tattooed and being tattooed happens to be a personal hobby.
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Guest Mereane

Posted

I have so many scars on my legs from when I was younger I actually need to be full bodied tattooed. lol I have a couple of tattoos that are not very visible except for a finger tattoo on my right hand that I had done in my early twenties. People ask me what the tattoo means and I have to tell them that it was something my cousins and I did to symbolize our family. lol In reality it was a stupid drunk move. However, my fiance is fully tattooed has arm sleeves, leg tattoos and Im embarrassed to go around with him because people stare and think he's a criminal.
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Guest Randal Eldon Greene

Posted

I'm not exactly sure when, but sometime during college I noticed this connection between compulsive behavior and tattoos. Of course, I could be noticing two things that are entirely unrelated, and I won't rule out that I'm unconsciously biased. Working at a gas station, I noticed visible tattoos more frequently on those who bought cigarettes (though not those who chewed). It seems that when I worked at a large call center, many of my coworkers had tattoos. And most of those who had tattoos also smoked (I was the only nonsmoker who frequented the "smoke deck" because I liked to take a book and read outside. I became good acquaintances with the smokers this way). It seemed like a sizable number of those who rocked tattoos also had compulsions to drink or do other drugs frequently outside of the workplace.

It's interesting to note that none of my close friends have tattoos. And none of my friends smoke. For a short while in college I had friends who smoked cigarettes (and a core group that smoked marijuana too). I met them either through my pothead roommate or outside the dorms where I went to enjoy the sunshine and the smokers went to smoke. But none of those friendships stuck because every single last smoker I knew dropped out due to drugs, alcohol, and partying. My freshman year was social; my sophomore year I had to begin again without a single close friend.

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with tattoos. I'm also not saying that all those with tattoos smoke or all those who smoke have tattoos. And I'm not fool enough to think that if there is a correlation between being inked and smoking that it is simply personality or compulsion control (surely cultural attitudes and expectations would also be playing a part). What I am saying is that I noticed something. Take it or leave it or (better yet) someone conduct a survey, a study.

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My arms are spangled in tattoos. They are exactly how they're presented: completely random. I just really enjoy the art.

I went below the elbow in 2012 and have filled the majority of my arms with big, bold tattoos. I'm lucky to work in a creative field where (as long as my copy converts) the CEO and leadership team don't give a furry rat's ass whether I'm tattooed or not. But that wasn't always the case...

I worked in the real estate business in the suburbs of Houston for a year and had to wear long sleeves every day because I dealt primarily with old, conservative, white dudes that would have certainly looked down on me for having a half-naked woman tattooed on my inner forearm.

My experience leads me to believe that how tattoos are perceived in the workplace is dependent on what industry and environment you're in.

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I'm trying to figure out if this is good or bad copy since I ended up reading the entire thing.
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