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Attitudes toward and stereotypes of persons with body art: implications for marketing management.

INTRODUCTION

A critical concern for many organizations is the image projected by their personnel to customers or other interest groups. Many organizations have dress codes designed to project a specific image (Wich, 2007). An issue which appears to be of increasing concern within the context of dress codes in the U.S.A. is the apparent increase in the prevalence of tattoos and body piercing among employees, adornments commonly referred to as body art. The concern results from the fact that body art has historically been associated with negative behavior and connotations. Though historically considered to be somewhat deviant behavior in Western society, social scientists argued that the use of body art is becoming increasingly diffused and embraced by the middle class (Carroll, Riffenburgh, Roberts & Myhre, 2002; DeMello, 2000; Rock, 2008).

Although the display of body art by employees is may be of particular concern to retailers in the U.S.A., the issue is actually more widespread: law firms, hospitals, non-profit organizations, and even government agencies such as state parks "wrestle" with the issue of how employees should dress (e.g., Body Art and Tattoos, 2006; Business Legal Reports, 2006; Dale, Bevill, Roach, Glasgow & Bracy, 2008; Felton-O'Brien, 2007; Mlodzik, 2007). The issue for managers is that both tattoos and body piercings with adornment have in the past often been associated with risky and deviant behavior in our culture. Uncertainty abounds from a management perspective as to how accepting of body art customers may be, and what stereotypes might come into play. What size tattoo is acceptable? How many are acceptable and on what parts of one's body? Are they more acceptable on women, or by women? The concern is not only about the existence, number, size and location of the tattoos, but what the tattoo might express (i.e. symbolism).

The issue is complicated by the fact that dress codes can quickly become legal "minefields" (Barron, 2007). Legal ramifications associated with the restriction of body art can include issues of sex discrimination, freedom of religion and freedom of speech. In fact, numerous lawsuits have resulted from the establishment mandatory dress codes for employees that included proscriptions against body art. One case in 2006 involved Red Robin Gourmet Burgers which was sued in a Washington state federal court as a result of terminating a member of the wait staff who had refused to cover tattoos on his wrists. The server who brought suit claimed in court that the tattoos were of religious significance and symbolized his devotion to Ra, the Egyptian sun god. The company countered that forbidding visible tattoos was essential to maintaining its "family-friendly" image (Barron, 2007).

LITERATURE REVIEW

Although there is a growing body of literature concerned with body art from the perspectives of the social sciences and the medical field, relatively little attention has been devoted to the topic from the marketing perspective. Much of the medical literature on tattooing and body piercing has focused on the risks and complications associated with of the procedures themselves (Armstrong, Koch, Saunders, Roberts & Owen, 2007; Carroll et al., 2002; Food and Drug Administration, 2007). Studies published in the sociology literature have primarily focused on the display of body art as a form of "deviant" behavior, as well as descriptions of marginal and sub-cultural groups associated with tattooing and body art (Forbes, 2001) while studies published in the psychology literature have tended to focus on psychopathology and intrapersonal motivational factors in the display of body art (Vail, 1999). A group of academicians from several disciplines at Texas Tech University has been conducting body art research since the 1990s.

Recent surveys of adults have found the existence of body art to range from 4% to 24% in the general population (Gardyn & Whelan, 2001; Laumann & Derick, 2006; "Tattooed Emotions," 2004). Evidence suggests that the prevalence of body art has grown most quickly among young adults. Even mothers are taking daughters to get body art; apparently the greatest numbers of people getting tattoos are girls between the ages of 17 and 25 (Hein, 2006). The use of body art may be even higher among college students, with studies reporting rates of 20% to 60% (Anderson, 2003; Dale, Bevill, Roach & Glasgow, 2007; Forbes, 2001; Mayers, Judelson, Moriarty & Rundell, 2002; "University Survey," 2003). A 2006 study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that 48% of "20-somethings and 30 percent of all adults have a tattoo or body piercing" and "23 percent of those with body art hold at least a bachelor's degree" (Fiorentino, 2006, p. D1). Another recent study reported that 40.5% of 496 college business students reported having some form of body art, with 26.3% of male students and 56.8% of female students reporting either tattoos or body piercings (Lipscomb, Jones & Totten, 2008).

There is an emerging literature from the consumer behavior perspective, in which researchers have begun to explore the "consumption" of body art and the decision making process that underlies it (e.g., Armstrong, Owen, Roberts & Koch, 2002; Hawkins, Mothersbaugh & Best, 2007; Hoerr, Concklin, Marusich & Griffin, 1994; Lipscomb, et al., 2008; Solomon, 2004; Velliquette, Murray & Creyer, 1998).

As is apparent from the preceding literature review, little attention has been paid to the increasing popularity of body art from the marketing perspective. Since individuals engaged in a variety of marketing-related activities in diverse industries (retail, legal, medical, etc.) must interact with consumers on a face-to-face basis, it is important to understand the manner in which individuals with body art are perceived by consumers and the general public. The purpose of this study was to investigate attitudes toward persons with body art. The sample, business majors at several universities, was selected in part based on convenience and in part based on the fact that they may be representative of future managers and leaders in business communities.

METHODOLOGY

The instrument used in this study was developed by the authors on the basis of three focus groups in which college student participants were asked to discuss their attitudes toward body art in the form of tattoos and body piercing and toward persons possessing body art. These qualitative data were content analyzed by means of the Constant Comparative Method (Strauss & Corbin, 1990). From the unique dimensions identified, items for the quantitative investigation of attitudes toward person with body art were constructed. All items utilized a five-point Likert-type scale that had both verbal and numerical descriptors for each point on the scale (Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Neither, Agree, Strongly Agree). The resulting instrument was designed to provide data concerning various aspects of attitudes toward persons with body art as well as to gather basic demographic information concerning the respondent. Of interest here were the 37 items assessing stereotypical attitudes toward persons with body art.

Students enrolled in principles of marketing classes at14 colleges and universities geographically dispersed throughout the U.S. were administered questionnaires in their classrooms. The institutions participating in the study were selected by means of purposive sampling for geographic representation in the U.S. A faculty member who taught principles of marketing at each institution was recruited by phone or email to participate. Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval was obtained prior to data collection from the authors' institutions well as sister boards at the other participating universities as required. Copies of the questionnaire were mailed to participating faculty for distribution. Completed questionnaires were returned to the authors by U.S. mail. Questionnaires were also distributed by the authors, themselves, at their own university. The response rate was 65.7%, based on an approximate total of 755 surveys distributed, including the ones handed out by the authors in their classes.

RESPONDENT PROFILE

Completed questionnaires were received from a total of 496 respondents. The respondents ranged in age from 18 to 62 years. The average age of the respondents was 22.33 years, with a median age of 21 years. Among this sample, 47.2% were female while 52.8% were male. Four regions of the U.S. were represented in the study with 33.5% of the sample living in the Pacific region, 31.9% in the Midwest region, 21.8% in the Southern region, and 12.7 % in the East Coast region. The demographic variables used in the analyses reported below included: age, gender, region of residence, and whether or not the respondent reported having body art.

Survey instructions asked that respondents exclude pierced earlobes on women from consideration in their responses. The data revealed that, 40.5% of those responding indicated that they themselves had some form of body art. Of these individuals reporting some form of body art, 48.2 % reported having tattoos and 79.4% indicated having piercings. Of those having tattoos, the majority reported having one (64.1%), 19.8% reported having two. Three individuals (3.3%) reported having six or more tattoos. The overall pattern was similar for piercings with the largest percentage (41.6%) reporting having one piercing and 26.0% reporting having two. Three individuals (1.8%) reported having 10 or more piercings. These results are presented in Table 1.

DATA REDUCTION

Exploratory Factor Analysis (Principal Component Analysis extraction with varimax rotation using Kaiser normalization) was performed in order to discover inherent factors in the data. Inspection of the Scree plot that resulted from the initial analysis revealed evidence for three discrete factors. Additional factors appearing in the initial analysis were composed of items that either loaded below .40 or had a single item loading, typically one that loaded negatively with an item that also loaded positively on one of the three primary factors. Accordingly, a three factor solution was applied. The rotation converged in three iterations and accounted for 44.6 % of the variance. Inspection of the factor loadings of the 37 items analyzed revealed that the first two factors subsumed positive and negative characteristics associated with persons with body art respectively. Eighteen items loaded at .40 or greater on Factor 1 which was labeled, "Positive Characteristics Associated with Persons having Body Art". These 18 items measure the perceived attractiveness of persons with body art. Fifteen items loaded at .40 or greater on Factor 2, labeled as "Negative Characteristics Associated with Persons having Body Art". This factor is composed of items assessing attributions such as sexual promiscuity, aggressiveness, and other dimensions of negative social connotation. The third factor, "Number and Stereotyping," was composed of only two items both of which pertained to social views of persons with body art and were specifically concerned with the manner in which the respondent understood society's views of a person as being affected by the number of tattoos and/or piercings he/she has. Only two of the 37 items did not load above .40 on one or the other of these factors. Items along with their respective factor loadings are presented in Table 2. Response percentages for each of the items are provided in Table 3.

Further analyses revealed many significant differences by gender (Table 4), region of the country (Table 5), presence of body art (Table 6) and age (Table 7). These differences are discussed on a factor-by-factor basis, looking at tattoo-based items then piercing-based items within each factor.

FACTOR 1: POSITIVE CHARACTERISTICS

The majority of respondents (65%) indicated that tattoos can be attractive (combined percentages for responses of 4, Agree, and 5, Strongly Agree; see Table 3). This was a fairly robust finding and did not vary significantly as a function of gender of the respondent. Analysis using Pearson Chi Square for Independence indicated, however, that there was a relationship between this item and the area of the country in which the respondent resided. A higher percentage of the respondents residing in the East Coast region of the U.S. agreed (combined percentages for responses of 4, Agree and 5, Strongly Agree; see Table 5) that tattoos are attractive (87.3 %) as compared to those in the Pacific, Midwestern, and Southern regions (m = 61.4 %), [chi square] (12) = 28.84, p = .004. There was also a relatively small but statistically significant negative correlation of this item with age of the respondent, r = -.116, p = .011 (see Table 7). An interesting pattern emerged in response to items concerning the attractiveness of tattoos for persons of each sex (see Table 4). Further, analysis using Pearson Chi Square for Independence indicated that these attitudes were tempered by the gender of the respondent to a statistically significant extent. Considering the attractiveness of tattoos on men, a total of 51.3 % of the female respondents indicated that they agreed that tattoos on men are attractive. On the other hand, a total of 24.9 % of the men indicated agreement, [chi square] (4) = 44.397, p = .001. Concerning the attractiveness of tattoos on women, the pattern was essentially the converse. Whereas 49.4% of the men agreed that tattoos on women are attractive, only 32.4 % of women agreed. Again, this relationship was found to be statistically significant, [chi square] (4) = 15.23, p = .004 (see Table 4). There was also a significant regional variation for the attitude that tattoos on women are attractive, [chi square] (12) = 37.25, p = .001 (see Table 5). A smaller percentage of respondents residing in the Southern region ascribed to this view (29.9 %) as compared to those in the Pacific, Mid Western, and East Coast regions (m = 61.86 %). In addition, there was also a relatively small but statistically significant negative correlation of this item with age of the respondent, r = -.093, p = .041 (see Table 7).

The results also indicated that the extent of the presence of tattoos on both men and women is related to attributions of attractiveness by the respondents. Specifically, 78.1 % and 87.5 % of respondents disagreed that extensive tattoos are attractive on men and women respectively (see Table 3). In the case of tattoos on men, however, there was a significant relationship with gender, [chi square] (4) = 18.59, p = .001 (see Table 4). More women disagreed that extensive tattoos on men are attractive (85.6 %) as compared to male respondents (71.6 %). There was no significant relationship of gender to the item concerning the attractiveness of extensive tattoos on women.

A specific sub-dimension of attractiveness that was examined is that of sexual attraction. This dimension was referred to in various items by the adjective, "sexy". Interestingly, whereas the great majority of respondents disagreed that extensive tattoos on both men and women are attractive, the majority, 62.1 %, agreed that a small discrete tattoo on a woman is "sexy" while only 22.4 % agreed that this was so for a man (see Table 3). Consistent with the cross-gender pattern discussed above, there was a statistically significant relationship between the gender of the respondent and his/her attributions of sexual attractiveness for a small discrete tattoo on women, [chi square] (4) = 33.81, p = .001 (Table 4). In this comparison, 71.6 % of men agreed that a small discrete tattoo on women is "sexy" as opposed to 51.4 % of female respondents. A similar cross-gender effect was in evidence for the companion item concerning the "sexiness" of a small discrete tattoo on a man, p2 (4) = 55.65, p = .001 (Table 4). Significantly more women (35.2 %) agreed that a small discrete tattoo on a man is "sexy" as compared to men (11.5%), [chi square] (4) = 55.62, p= .001 (Table 4).

In response to the item, "Tattoos are appropriate for a person of any age", 24.2 % of the sample expressed agreement while 60.9% expressed disagreement (see Table 3). For the item, "Tattoos are appropriate for a parent," 30 % agreed, 41.3% were neutral and 27.8% disagreed (see Table 3). For the sample as a whole, 38.5 % agreed that tattoos are indicative of "free spiritedness" while 23.7 % disagreed and 36.9 % were neutral (see Table 3). There was fairly uniform agreement for these three items as there were no significant relationships to the demographic variables considered with the exception of whether or not the respondent him/herself reported having body art (discussed below).

As was the case with tattoos, the majority of respondents (71 %) indicated that piercings with body jewelry can be attractive (combined percentages for responses of 4, Agree and 5, Strongly Agree; see Table 3). With the exception of whether or not the respondent him/herself reported having body art (see Table 6), there was fairly uniform agreement as there were no significant relationships of this item to gender or region of residence. There was, however, a statistically significant negative correlation with age of the respondent, r = -.225, p = .001 (Table 7). Also as was the case for tattoos, a considerably higher percentage of respondents viewed piercings with body jewelry on women to be attractive (67.5 %) as compared to men (12.1 %) (see Table 3). Again, statistically significant patterns were evident as functions of the gender of the respondents. Thus, a statistically significantly greater percentage of men reported piercings with body jewelry on women to be attractive (72.7 %) as compared to women respondents (61.3 %), [chi square] (4) = 17.03, p = .002 (Table 4). This item was significantly negatively correlated with the age of the respondent, r = -.231, p = .001 (Table 7). Likewise, a statistically significantly greater percentage of women reported piercings with body jewelry on men to be attractive (19.3 %) as compared to men respondents (6.0 %), [chi square] (4) = 41.59, p = .0001 (Table 4).

Also as was the case for tattoos, the extent of the presence of piercings with body jewelry on both men and women was found to be related to attributions of attractiveness. Specifically, the majority of respondents disagreed that extensive piercings are attractive on men (80.3 %) and women respectively (79.8 %) (see Table 3). There was a significant relationship between gender and agreement that extensive piercings on men are attractive, [chi square] (4) = 27.16, p = .001 (Table 4). A greater percentage of women (88.5 %) disagreed that extensive piercings on men are attractive as compared to men (75.3 %). There was no such relationship between gender and the attribution that extensive piercings on women are attractive. There was, however, a significant regional variation for this item, [chi square] (12) = 26.09, p = .010 (Table 5), wherein a smaller percentage of those in the Eastern region disagreed that extensive piercings on women are attractive (60.3 %) than was the case for any of the other three regions of the U.S. (m = 83.06 %). Likewise, there was a significant relationship between region and the attribution that extensive piercings on men are attractive, [chi square] (12) = 23.21, p = .026 (Table 5), with a smaller percentage of respondents in the eastern region disagreeing with the statement (66.1 %) than in the other three geographic regions (m = 84.26 %).

Concerning the specific sub-dimension of the sexual attractiveness of persons with piercings and body jewelry, 15.3 % of the sample agreed that a small discrete piercing on a man is "sexy" while 64.7 % agreed that this was so for a woman, a similar pattern to that found with tattoos (see Table 3). There was a small but significant negative correlation for the item concerning the "sexiness" of a small, discrete tattoo on a woman with age of the respondent, r = -.175, p = .001 (Table 7). Also as was found with tattoos, there were significant cross-gender relationships wherein a higher percentage of women (26.9 %) as compared to men (5.5 %) agreed that a small discrete piercing with body jewelry is "sexy" on men, [chi square] (4) = 58.91, p= .001 (Table 4) while more men (70.2 %) as compared to women (58.8 %) agreed that this was true for women, [chi square] (4) = 10.58, p = .032 (Table 4).

Considering the entire sample, the majority (64.3 %) disagreed that piercings with body art are appropriate for persons of any age (see Table 3). In response to the related item "Piercing(s) with body jewelry is appropriate for a parent", 21.7% of the respondents agreed while 41.3 % disagreed (see Table 3). There was a small but significant negative correlation of this latter item with age of the respondent, r = -.225, p = .000 (Table 7).

Although there are too many significant relationships to list, for every variable having to do with the attractiveness or "sexiness" of tattoos or piercings, chi square analysis revealed a statistically significant relationship between these attitudes and whether or not the respondent him/herself reported having body art (see Table 6). Not surprisingly, those respondents who reported having body art more frequently agreed that tattoos and piercings are attractive and "sexy" than did those who did not report having body art.

FACTOR 2: NEGATIVE CHARACTERISTICS

The majority of the respondents (58%) disagreed that a man with a tattoo is sexually promiscuous (see Table 3). Significantly more women (69.2 %) expressed disagreement as compared to men (49.2 %), [chi square] (4) = 39.59, p = .001 (Table 4). Similarly, the majority of the sample (56.6 %) disagreed that a woman with a tattoo is sexually promiscuous (see Table 3). Again, significantly more women disagreed (68.2 %) with this statement as compared to men (46.5 %), [chi square] (4) = 28.45, p = .001 (Table 4). The majority of the respondents disagreed that a person with a tattoo is aggressive (55.4 %) (see Table 3). This opinion was quite uniform across the sample as with the exception of whether the respondent reported having body art (Table 6), there were no statistically significant relationships between this item and the other demographic variables considered. So too, the majority of the sample disagreed that a person with a tattoo has a "bad image" (64.1%). In the case of this item, however, there was a significant relationship to gender with more women (73.7 %) disagreeing with the statement than men (56.9 %), [chi square] (4) = 17.61, p = .001 (Table 4).

Roughly a fourth of the sample (21.6 %) agreed that tattoos are indicative of a "partying lifestyle" while 45.8% disagreed (see Table 3). This view was relatively uniform as there were no significant relationships of this item to any of the demographic variables considered. A relatively small percentage of respondents ascribed to the view that a person with tattoos engages in substance abuse (4.5 %) with the majority disagreeing with this assertion (see Table 3). A smaller percentage of men (71.8%), however, disagreed as compared to women (84.1%), [chi square] (4) = 12.12, p = .017 (Table 4). There was a small but statistically significant positive correlation of this item to the age of the respondent, r = .143, p = .002 (Table 7). Likewise, the majority of respondents (61.3) disagreed that a person with a tattoo is "tough." There were no statistically significant relationships for this variable to any of the demographic items considered.

In general, the results for piercing paralleled those for tattoos. The results for the sample as a whole indicated that the majority of respondents disagreed that a person with piercings with body art is "tough" (75.2%) or has a "bad image" (69.4%) (Table 3). There was a significant positive correlation of this item with the age of the respondent, r = .217, p = .000 (Table 7). Concerning the notion that person with piercings are "tough" there was a significant relationship of this item to gender, [chi square] (4) = 10.26, p = .036 (Table 4). A greater percentage of the female respondents disagreed (80.7 %) as compared to men (72.1 %). For the item concerning a person with piercings having a "bad image", there was also a significant relationship to gender, [chi square] (4) = 17.66, p = .001 (Table 4). Once again, more women disagreed (78.0 %) as compared to men (62.4 %). There was a significant positive correlation of this item and age of the respondent, r = .217, p = .001 (Table 7).

In a similar fashion the majority of respondents (69.9 %) disagreed that a person with piercings with body jewelry is aggressive. So too, the majority of respondents disagreed that a person with piercing with body jewelry abuses alcohol or drugs (78.4%) There was, however, a significant relationship to gender for this item, [chi square] (4) = 17.66, p = .001 (Table 4). More women disagreed with the assertion (86.0 %) as compared to men (73.0 %) (Table 3). There was a small but positive correlation of this item with age of the respondent, r = .156, p = .001 (Table 7). Similarly, the majority of the sample disagreed that a person with piercings with body jewelry leads a "partying lifestyle" (63.0 %) (see Table 3). There was a small but positive correlation of this item with age of the respondent, r = .101, p = .026 (Table 7).

As was the case for the items comprising Factor 1, for those items comprising factor 2 there were statistically significant relationships to whether the respondent reported having body art (see Table 6). A significantly higher percentage of those respondents reporting having body art disagreed with the negative stereotypes of persons with body art.

FACTOR 3: NUMBER AND STEREOTYPING

As mentioned above, this factor was composed of only two items both of which pertained to social views of persons with body art and were specifically concerned with the manner in which the respondent understood society's views of a person as being affected by the number of tattoos and/or piercings he/she has. The majority of respondents agreed that the number of tattoos (85.3%) and piercings (80.8%) a person has makes a difference in how he/she is perceived by others (see Table 3). The sample was relatively consistent in this assessment as there were no statistically significant relationships of either item to the demographic variables considered including whether the respondent reported having body art.

There were two items that were not part of the three factors and, indeed, appear to be conceptually unrelated to one another. The first of these concerned the extent to which society stereotypes persons with tattoos. The majority of respondents (86.9%) agreed that this is so (see Table 3). The sample was relatively uniform in this belief as there was no statistically significant relationship of this item to the demographic variables considered. The second "non-factor" item was concerned with extent to which piercings with body jewelry indicate "free spiritedness." For this item, 29.2% of the sample agreed while 34.5% were neutral and 35.7% disagreed (see Table 3). There was a statistically significant relationship to region of residence, [chi square] (12) = 31.51, p = .002 (Table 5). More respondents residing in the East Coast Region (52.3 %) agreed with this statement than did those in the three other regions (m = 37.33 %). It did not vary significantly as a function of the other demographic items considered including whether the respondent reported having body art.

DISCUSSION

In general, the present results indicate that the majority of the university business majors comprising the sample not only do not harbor negative attitudes or stereotypes toward persons with body art but, in fact, express many positive attributions. The majority of those surveyed, however, believed that society in general does, in fact, stereotype persons with either type of body art. At the most global level, the majority of the sample expressed the attitudes that both tattoos and body piercings are attractive. This tended to be true for both female and male respondents. There was, however, regional variation in the case of tattoos with those respondents attending universities in the East Coast region of the U.S. finding tattoos to be more attractive than those in the other regions of the country. Another interesting and not completely unexpected finding is that the younger persons in the sample tend to find both piercings and tattoos on others to be more attractive than do the older respondents.

Rather interestingly, the sex of the individual about whom an attribution of attractiveness is made was found to make a difference. Specifically, both piercings and tattoos are considered to be more attractive on women than on men. In addition, cross-gender patterns were evident for both forms of body art with men finding tattoos and piercings on women to be more attractive than on men and women finding them to be more attractive on men than women. It is recognized, of course, that this latter finding may well be related to men in the sample simply being more attracted to women in general and women being more attracted to men. If this were true, this last finding would be somewhat artifactual but still interesting and not without implication. There was also a regional variation concerning the attractiveness of tattoos on women with those respondents attending universities in the southern region of the U.S. reporting tattoos on women to be less attractive that those in the other regions of the country.

Another interesting finding had to do with the extensiveness of body art. Apparently, the majority of respondents find body art of both types to be attractive as long as these are not overdone. The majority of the sample disagreed that extensive tattoos and extensive piercings on persons of either sex are attractive. Along these same lines, the majority of the sample reported that a small discrete tattoo or piercing is "sexy" on a woman while a minority of the sample found this to be so for men. In addition, for both tattoos and piercings there were tendencies for younger persons to find small, discrete tattoos or piercings "sexy" as opposed to older ones.

In general, the majority of the sample disagreed with various negative stereotypes and attributions concerning persons with tattoos and/or piercings. Thus, the majority of those surveyed disagreed that persons with either tattoos or body piercings are necessarily promiscuous, aggressive, engage in substance abuse, are "tough" or have a "bad image". Nearly half disagreed that persons with either type of body art have a "partying" lifestyle. There was a tendency for women to disagree more than men and for younger persons to disagree more than older ones. In this way, it can be argued that both women and younger persons are less prone to negative stereotyping of persons with body art than are men and older persons and are, therefore, more accepting of body art on others. Never the less, the majority of the sample disagreed that tattoos and body art are appropriate for a person of any age and were somewhat ambivalent concerning the appropriateness of either tattoos or piercings for parents.

In terms of the issues and questions introduced earlier then and to the extent that the present results may be generalizable to college students in the U.S. more broadly, it would appear that there is relatively little reason for concern for those companies and products that target college students that negative attitudes and stereotypes associated with persons with body art will negatively impact marketing efforts. On the contrary, it would appear that among this important consumer group most find tattoos and body piercing to be attractive and relatively few harbor negative stereotypes of persons with body art. This was true for those individuals attending universities in all regions of the country but particularly so for those in the East Coast region. Also, younger persons in the present study found body art to be more attractive than did their older counter parts. There was also evidence that consumers represented in the present sample find body art to be most attractive on women. These results are mitigated somewhat by the finding that most respondents were apparently of the opinion that body art can be overdone as the majority of the sample disagreed that extensive tattoos and extensive piercings on persons of either sex are attractive.

The present findings may have implication for marketing managers. To the extent that recommendations are appropriate based on the present results and procedures, one such general statement would be that there need be little concern among managers that persons in their employ with body art who are visible to the public will be viewed negatively by customers or detract from potential sales. This would appear to be particularly so if the representative in question is a woman. The exception may be for company representatives who display extensive body art. The present data suggest that these individuals may not be viewed favorably by consumers. (It should be noted that those with body art less frequently ascribed to this more general view; marketing activities directed specifically toward these consumers is the exception.) In addition, the make-up of the target market must be considered. As a general rule, younger persons in the present sample and those residing in the East Coast region of the country find body art to be the most attractive. Marketing managers in the East Coast region and those directing their strategic marketing efforts toward younger consumers in particular need not be overly concerned that persons in their employ display body art.

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Jeff W. Totten, McNeese State University

Thomas J. Lipscomb, The University of Southern Mississippi

Michael A. Jones, Southeastern Louisiana University
Table 1: Prevalence of Tattoos and Piercings Among
Those With Body Art

Type/Number n %

Tattoos 92 48.2
One Tattoo 59 64.1
Two Tattoos 18 19.6
Three Tattoos 8 8.7
Four Tattoos 4 4.3
Type/Number n %
Five Tattoos 0 0
Six Tattoos 1 1.1
Seven Tattoos 1 1.1
More than Seven 1 1.1
Piercings 154 79.4
One Piercing 64 41.6
Two Piercings 40 26
Three Piercings 27 17.5
Four Piercings 7 4.5
Five Piercings 1 0.6
Six Piercings 2 1.3
Seven Piercings 4 2.6
Eight Piercings 6 3.9
More than Eight 3 1.8

Table 2: Factor Loadings
 Factor

 Item 1 2 3

Tattoos can be attractive 0.755 0.109 0.203
Tattoos on men are attractive 0.701 0.168 0.092
Tattoos on women are attractive 0.712 0.118 0.135
A small, discrete tattoo is "sexy" on a 0.651 0.127 0.332
 woman
Extensive tattoos are attractive on a man 0.491 0.288 -0.366
A man with a tattoo(s) is sexually 0.069 0.584 -0.059
 promiscuous
Extensive tattoos are attractive on a woman 0.432 0.236 -0.33
A small, discrete tattoo is "sexy" on a man 0.537 0.113 0.043
A woman with a tattoo(s) is sexually 0.069 0.642 0.049
 promiscuous
Piercings with body jewelry can be 0.729 -0.007 0.256
 attractive
Piercing(s) with body jewelry on women is 0.679 0.023 0.265
 attractive
A small, discrete piercing with body 0.588 0.174 -0.193
 jewelry is "sexy" on a man
Extensive piercings with body jewelry are 0.466 0.348 -0.308
 attractive on a woman
A man with piercing(s) and body jewelry is 0.089 0.672 -0.008
 sexually promiscuous
A woman with piercing(s) and body jewelry 0.066 0.676 -0.008
 is sexually promiscuous
Piercing(s) with body jewelry on men is 0.618 0.204 -0.188
 attractive
A small, discrete piercing with body 0.653 0.06 0.289
 jewelry is "sexy" on a woman
Extensive piercings with body jewelry are 0.445 0.371 -0.467
 attractive on a man
A person with a tattoo(s) is aggressive -0.309 0.59 0.082
I consider a person with a tattoo(s) to -0.548 0.434 0.037
 have a "bad" image
Tattoos are appropriate for a person of 0.518 0.123 -0.198
 any age
People tend to stereotype persons with a -0.091 0.082 0.309
 tattoo(s) *
The number of tattoos that a person has -0.051 0.078 0.526
 makes a difference in how he/is
 perceived by others
Tattoos are appropriate for a parent 0.708 0.012 -0.028
Tattoos indicate "free spiritedness"* 0.348 0.37 0.354
Tattoos indicate a "partying lifestyle" -0.258 0.578 0.165
Tattoos indicate that the person abuses -0.455 0.559 -0.097
 alcohol or drugs
A person with a tattoo(s) is "tough". -0.086 0.614 0.082
A person with piercing(s) with body -0.008 0.598 -0.131
 jewelry is "tough"
I consider a person with a piercing(s) with -0.536 0.495 0.022
 body jewelry to have a "bad" image
Piercing(s) with body jewelry is 0.494 0.096 -0.281
 appropriate for persons of any age
The number of piercings with body jewelry 0.028 0.092 0.584
 that a person has makes a
difference in how he/is perceived by others
A person with a piercing(s) with body -0.215 0.703 -0.039
 jewelry is aggressive
Piercing(s) with body jewelry indicate 0.213 0.436 0.397
 free spiritedness
Piercing(s) with body jewelry indicate that -0.446 0.6 -0.053
 the person abuses alcohol or drugs
Piercing(s) with body jewelry is 0.659 -0.031 -0.106
 appropriate for a parent
Piercing(s) with body jewelry indicate a -0.324 0.657 0.034
 partying lifestyle

* Did not load on any factor.

Table 3: Item Results in Percentages *

 Strongly Disagree Neither
Item Disagree

Tattoos can be attractive 7.3 (36) 13.7 (68) 13.9 (69)
Tattoos on men are attractive 15.2 (75) 16.1 (79) 31.3 (154)
Tattoos on women are attractive 13.6 (67) 19.4 (96) 25.1 (124)
A small, discrete tattoo is 7.1 (35) 12.6 (62) 18.0 (89)
 "sexy" on a woman
Extensive tattoos are 44.9 33.4 (165) 16.0 (79)
 attractive on a man
 -222
A man with a tattoo(s) is 27.4 31.1 (153) 33.9 (167)
 sexually promiscuous
 -135
Extensive tattoos are 62.5 (308) 25.6 (126) 7.3 (36)
 attractive on a woman
A small, discrete tattoo is 23.8 (117) 22.4 (110) 31.3 (154)
 "sexy" on a man
A woman with a tattoo(s) is 27.5 (136) 29.4 (145) 30.6 (151)
 sexually promiscuous
Piercings with body jewelry can 6.9 (34) 10.1 (50) 12.1 (60)
 be attractive
Piercing(s) with body jewelry 6.9 (34) 10.3 (51) 15.3 (76)
 on women is attractive
A small, discrete piercing with 29.1 (143) 29.9 (147) 25.6 (126)
 body jewelry is "sexy" on
 a man
Extensive piercings with body 41 39.0 (193) 13.7 (68)
 jewelry are attractive on a
 woman
 -203
A man with piercing(s) and body 31.0 (152) 28.5 (140) 32.0 (157)
 jewelry is sexually
 promiscuous
A woman with piercing(s) and 26.3 (130) 30.1 (149) 28.7 (142)
 body jewelry is sexually
 promiscuous
Piercing(s) with body jewelry 28.9 (141) 33.0 (161) 25.8 (126)
 on men is attractive
A small, discrete piercing with 8.3 (41) 11.2 (55) 15.2 (75)
 body jewelry is "sexy" on a
 woman
Extensive piercings with body 49.5 32.2 (157) 16.2 (79)
 jewelry are attractive
 on a man
 -241
A person with a tattoo(s) is 15.2 (75) 40.7 (200) 32.1 (158)
 aggressive
I consider a person with a 21.6 (106) 43.3 (212) 20.4 (100)
 tattoo(s) to have a "bad"
 image
Tattoos are appropriate for a 23.4 (115) 38.0 (187) 14.2 (70)
 person of any age
People tend to stereotype .6 (3) 4.3 (21) 6.6 (32)
 persons with a tattoo(s)
The number of tattoos that a 1.2 (6) 3.5 (17) 9.2 (45)
 person has makes a difference
 in how he/is perceived by
 others
Tattoos are appropriate for a 10.6 (52) 17.5 (86) 41.7 (205)
 parent
Tattoos indicate "free 5.5 (27) 18.5 (91) 37.2 (183)
 spiritedness"
Tattoos indicate a "partying 9.4 (46) 37.0 (181) 31.7 (155)
 lifestyle"
Tattoos indicate that the 37.1 (182) 40.5 (199) 17.9 (88)
 person abuses alcohol or
 drugs
A person with a tattoo(s) is 23.6 (116) 38.3 (188) 28.3 (139)
 "tough".
A person with piercing(s) with 25.3 (124) 50.7 (249) 19.8 (97)
 body jewelry is "tough"
I consider a person with a 20.1 (99) 49.8 (245) 18.3 (90)
 piercing(s) with body jewelry
 to have a "bad" image
Piercing(s) with body jewelry 21.0 (103) 44.0 (216) 15.9 (78)
 is appropriate for persons of
 any age
The number of piercings with 2.6 (13) 6.7 (33) 9.0 (44)
 body jewelry that a person
 has makes a difference in how
 he/is perceived by others
A person with a piercing(s) 16.7 (82) 54.0 (265) 22.6 (111)
 with body jewelry is
 aggressive
Piercing(s) with body jewelry 6.9(34) 29.0 (143) 34.7 (171)
 indicate "free spiritedness"
Piercing(s) with body jewelry 29.3 (144) 49.8 (245) 17.1 (84)
 indicate that the person
 abuses alcohol or drugs
Piercing(s) with body jewelry 14.6 (72) 27.0 (133) 36.6 (180)
 is appropriate for a parent
Piercing(s) with body jewelry 16.5 (81) 46.5 (229) 22.2 (109)
 indicate a "partying
 lifestyle"

 Agree Strongly
Item Agree

Tattoos can be attractive 51.9 (257) 13.1 (65)
Tattoos on men are attractive 30.5 (150) 6.9 (34)
Tattoos on women are attractive 34.4 (170) 7.5 (37)
A small, discrete tattoo is 41.5 (205) 20.9 (103)
 "sexy" on a woman
Extensive tattoos are 4.5 (22) 1.2 (6)
 attractive on a man

A man with a tattoo(s) is 6.1 (30) 1.4 (7)
 sexually promiscuous

Extensive tattoos are 3.4 (17) 1.2 (6)
 attractive on a woman
A small, discrete tattoo is 20.5 (101) 2.0 (10)
 "sexy" on a man
A woman with a tattoo(s) is 10.9 (54) 1.6 (8)
 sexually promiscuous
Piercings with body jewelry can 56.5 (280) 14.5 (72)
 be attractive
Piercing(s) with body jewelry 54.2 (269) 13.3 (66)
 on women is attractive
A small, discrete piercing with 13.2 (65) 2.2 (11)
 body jewelry is "sexy" on
 a man
Extensive piercings with body 5.1 (25) 1.2 (6)
 jewelry are attractive on a
 woman

A man with piercing(s) and body 7.9 (39) .6 (3)
 jewelry is sexually
 promiscuous
A woman with piercing(s) and 12.9 (64) 2.0 (10)
 body jewelry is sexually
 promiscuous
Piercing(s) with body jewelry 11.1 (54) 1.2 (6)
 on men is attractive
A small, discrete piercing with 53.7 (264) 11.6 (57)
 body jewelry is "sexy" on a
 woman
Extensive piercings with body 1.6 (8) .4 (2)
 jewelry are attractive
 on a man

A person with a tattoo(s) is 11.6 (57) .4 (2)
 aggressive
I consider a person with a 12.7 (62) 2.0 (10)
 tattoo(s) to have a "bad"
 image
Tattoos are appropriate for a 20.9 (103) 3.5 (17)
 person of any age
People tend to stereotype 62.2 (303) 26.3 (128)
 persons with a tattoo(s)
The number of tattoos that a 61.1 (300) 25.1 (123)
 person has makes a difference
 in how he/is perceived by
 others
Tattoos are appropriate for a 27.6 (136) 2.6 (13)
 parent
Tattoos indicate "free 36.2 (178) 2.6 (13)
 spiritedness"
Tattoos indicate a "partying 20.7 (101) 1.2 (6)
 lifestyle"
Tattoos indicate that the 4.1 (20) .4 (2)
 person abuses alcohol or
 drugs
A person with a tattoo(s) is 8.8 (43) 1.0 (5)
 "tough".
A person with piercing(s) with 4.1 (20) .2 (1)
 body jewelry is "tough"
I consider a person with a 10.2 (50) 1.6 (8)
 piercing(s) with body jewelry
 to have a "bad" image
Piercing(s) with body jewelry 16.5 (81) 2.6 (13)
 is appropriate for persons of
 any age
The number of piercings with 63.1 (310) 18.5 (91)
 body jewelry that a person
 has makes a difference in how
 he/is perceived by others
A person with a piercing(s) 6.3 (31) .4 (2)
 with body jewelry is
 aggressive
Piercing(s) with body jewelry 28.8 (142) .6 (3)
 indicate "free spiritedness"
Piercing(s) with body jewelry 3.5 (17) .4 (2)
 indicate that the person
 abuses alcohol or drugs
Piercing(s) with body jewelry 19.5 (96) 2.2 (11)
 is appropriate for a parent
Piercing(s) with body jewelry 14.2 (70) .6 (3)
 indicate a "partying
 lifestyle"

* Items in parentheses are frequencies

Table 4: Percentage Agreement and Disagreement for Items Significantly
Related to Gender of Respondent (a)

Item Disagree Agree

 Male Female Male Female

Tattoos on men are attractive 36.3 26.1 24.9 51.3
Tattoos on women are attractive 29.2 37.7 49.4 32.4
Extensive tattoos are attractive on a 71.9 85.6 6.7 4.8
 man
A small, discrete tattoo is "sexy" on 51.8 39.6 11.5 35.2
 a man
Piercing(s) with body jewelry on women 17.5 17.4 72.7 61.3
 is attractive
A small, discrete piercing with body 63.6 53.0 5.5 26.9
 jewelry is "sexy" on a man
Piercing(s) with body jewelry on men 64.1 59.2 6.0 19.3
 is attractive
A small, discrete piercing with body 17.6 21.9 70.2 58.8
 jewelry is "sexy" on a woman
Extensive piercings with body jewelry 75.3 88.5 2.0 2.2
 are attractive on a man
A man with a tattoo(s) is sexually 49.2 69.2 7.1 7.9
 promiscuous
A woman with a tattoo(s) is sexually 46.5 68.2 17.5 6.1
 promiscuous
I consider a person with a tattoo(s) 56.9 73.7 17.0 11.8
 to have a "bad" image
Tattoos indicate that the person 71.8 84.1 5.5 3.5
 abuses alcohol or drugs
A person with piercing(s) with body 72.1 80.7 5.5 3.1
 jewelry is "tough"
I consider a person with a piercing(s) 62.4 78.0 15.3 8.3
 with body jewelry to have a "bad"
 image

(a) Combined responses of Strongly Disagree and Disagree; Strongly
Agree and Agree

Table 5: percentage Agreement and Disagreement for Items
Significantly Related to Region of Residence

 Region Pacific Mid Western

 Item Disagree Agree Disagree Agree

Tattoos can be attractive 22.4 64.2 25.3 62.7

Tattoos on women are 31.6 42.4 36.7 43.7
attractive

Extensive piercings 78.3 7.2 86.7 3.8
with body jewelry are
attractive on a woman

Piercing(s) with body 27.9 28.5 23.5 43.9
jewelry indicate "free
spiritedness"

 Region Southern East Coast

 Item Disagree Agree Disagree Agree

Tattoos can be attractive 19.5 57.4 7.9 87.3

Tattoos on women are 37.4 29.9 19.1 57.1
attractive

Extensive piercings 84.2 4.7 60.3 12.7
with body jewelry are
attractive on a woman

Piercing(s) with body 24.5 39.6 27.7 52.3
jewelry indicate "free
spiritedness"

(a) Combined responses of Strongly Disagree and Disagree; Strongly
Agree and Agree

Table 6: Percentage Agreement and Disagreement for Items Significantly
Related to Report of Having and Not Having Body Art a

 Does Not Have Has Body Art
 Body Art

 Item Disagree Agree Disagree Agree

Tattoos can be attractive 26.6 55.5 13.1 78.3
Tattoos on men are attractive 43.0 22.3 14.2 59.9
Tattoos on women are attractive 41.7 34.8 20.3 51.8
A small, discrete tattoo is 25.9 56.3 10.7 70.5
 "sexy" on a woman
Extensive tattoos are attractive 81.5 3.7 74.0 8.7
 on a man
Extensive tattoos are attractive 91.3 2.4 82.7 8.2
 on a woman
A small, discrete tattoo is 51.9 18.6 38.6 27.4
 "sexy" on a man
Piercings with body jewelry can 23.7 63.2 7.0 82.8
 be attractive
Piercing(s) with body jewelry on 23.0 60.5 8.1 78.3
 women is attractive
A small, discrete piercing with 69.9 6.9 42.6 27.9
 body jewelry is "sexy" on a
 man
Extensive piercings with body 82.8 3.4 76.7 9.1
 jewelry are attractive on a
 woman
A man with piercing(s) and body 56.4 8.3 64.4 8.6
 jewelry is sexually
 promiscuous
Piercing(s) with body jewelry on 72.1 5.6 47.2 22.6
 men is attractive
A small, discrete piercing with 25.2 59.9 10.2 73.9
 body jewelry is "sexy" on a
 woman
Extensive piercings with body 84.5 1.4 77.9 3.1
 jewelry are attractive on a
 man
A person with a tattoo(s) is 48.8 13.5 66.3 10.2
 aggressive
I consider a person with a 56.6 19.4 76.4 8.2
 tattoo(s) to have a "bad"
 image
Tattoos are appropriate for a 68.5 16.9 50.5 35.2
 person of any age
Tattoos are appropriate for a 34.6 22.5 17.8 42.4
 parent
Tattoos indicate "free 28.0 33.9 18.4 45.9
 spiritedness
Tattoos indicate that the person 71.5 5.9 87.3 2.6
 abuses alcohol or drugs
I consider a person with a 61.3 16.6 82.1 5.1
 piercing(s) with body jewelry
 to have a "bad" image
Piercing(s) with body jewelry is 72.3 12.2 54.1 29.1
 appropriate for persons of any
 age
A person with a piercing(s) with 68.5 8.6 75.0 3.6
 body jewelry is aggressive
Piercing(s) with body jewelry 73.8 4.8 86.3 2.5
 indicate that the person
 abuses alcohol or drugs
Piercing(s) with body jewelry is 46.9 16.9 34.1 29.5
 appropriate for a parent
Piercing(s) with body jewelry 58.6 18.2 70.0 9.6
 indicate a "partying
 lifestyle"

(a) Combined responses of Strongly Disagree and Disagree; Strongly
Agree and Agree

Table 7: Items Significantly Correlated with Age of Respondent

Item

Tattoos can be attractive r = -.116 p = .011
Tattoos on women are attractive r = -.093 p = .041
Piercings with body jewelry can be attractive r = -.225 p = .000
Piercing(s) with body jewelry on women is r = -.231 p = .000
 attractive
A small discrete piercing with body jewelry is r = -.175 p = .000
 "sexy" on a woman
Tattoos are appropriate for a parent r = -.118 p = .010
Tattoos indicate that the person abuses alcohol r = -.143 p = .002
 or drugs
I consider a person with a piercing(s) with r = -.217 p = .000
 body jewelry to have a "bad" image
Piercing(s) with body jewelry indicate that the r = -.156 p = .001
 person abuses alcohol or drugs
Piercing(s) with body jewelry indicate a r = -.101 p = .026
 "partying lifestyle"
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Author:Totten, Jeff W.; Lipscomb, Thomas J.; Jones, Michael A.
Publication:Academy of Marketing Studies Journal
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2009
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