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Study Finds Psychologists With Tattoos Are Rated Higher By Their Clients

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Tattoed woman

As most people with tattoos will tell you, they can be a bit annoying to work around in professional settings. Long sleeves, bandaids, hats, you name it, it’s probably been used to cover up a tattoo for an interview before.

Like it or not, human beings are extremely judgemental and biased creatures and first impressions go a long way for casual and professional relationships.

Everyone always stresses how important it is to look sharp for work and especially interviews. Make sure that you’re shaved, wearing your make-up, have a nice-looking suit or other formal wear.

For people with tattoos, part of that professional image involves finding a way to cover up that ink.

But, as it would turn out, there is a professional setting in which having tattoos may actually offer you a leg up.

A new study may indicate that having visible tattoos is advantageous for psychologists.

A study performed by University of Saskatchewan researchers set out to test whether or not tattoos would negatively affect the reviews of psychologists.

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The study was performed by providing participants with the profile of a fictitious psychologist and asking participants to rate the psychologist’s competency, professionalism and other factors based on the profile.

What the researchers found ran counter to most people’s expectations of tattoos’ effects on professional perception.

The study found that participants didn't have their perception of the psychologist negatively impacted by tattoos.

When surveying 534 participants, Dr. Alexandra Zidenburg found that, “Having a neutral tattoo seems to be statistically equivalent to having no tattoo, and having a provocative tattoo appears to have a mildly positive effect on how people rate the psychologist.”

Why the results seemed to show a neutral to positive effect on the perception of the psychologist was beyond the scope of the study, but Zidenburg speculated that, “Having visible tattoos may signal greater originality and authenticity to clients.”

There were three different versions of the psychologist’s profile that participants were asked to evaluate.

One of the profiles had a picture of the psychologist with no visible tattoos, one of them had a visible flower tattoo and the last one had a picture of the psychologist with a skull tattoo.

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Surprisingly, participants without tattoos seemed to respond more positively to the version with the skull tattoo than any other version of the profile.

Zidenburg commented on this observation, saying what was “Really surprising was that participants without tattoos seemed to have a more positive view of the psychologist with a provocative tattoo.”

There is still more work that needs to be done.

This study could indicate a change in public perception of professionalism and the stigma that has surrounded tattoos for decades.

While the study’s findings are fascinating, it’s important to note that a single study scientific fact does not make and researchers plan to dive further into the topic in the future.

The researchers responsible for the study intend to have larger, wider studies in which they survey more and a more diverse group of people.

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Dan O'Reilly is a writer who covers news, politics, and social justice. Follow him on Twitter.