Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Barnett, Timothy R.

Committee Member

Long, Rebecca G.

Committee Member

Taylor, G. Stephen

Committee Member

Templeton, Laura Marler

Committee Member

Marett, Kent

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access



Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Business


Department of Management and Information Systems


An emerging concern for employers is the impact of visible body modification (VBM) in the workplace. Visible body modification includes tattoos, piercings, or implants that are both visible and observable on an individual’s body. The extant research on VBM suggests that employers are hesitant to hire those with visible tattoos or piercings, but fails to address how employees with VBM influence organizational outcomes. This dissertation examines how a specific type of VBM, visible tattoos, influences training and learning by investigating how a trainer’s visible tattoos affect trainees’ perceived trustworthiness and learning in a training context. The study used a sample of 164 undergraduate students and Amazon Mechanical Turk workers to assess reactions to a trainer’s visible tattoos. Subjects were randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups, with the two experimental groups having a trainer with one tattoo or full tattoo sleeves. The results indicated that there were no significant differences between groups for perceived trustworthiness or learning. Similarly, there was no support for the moderating effect of openness to experience, authoritarianism, or learning goal orientation. Social distance was found to moderate the relationship between the treatment and perceived trustworthiness. The findings of this study suggest that for the trainer and tattoos used, visible tattoos do not an impact on training outcomes. As this study was limited to one trainer with one type of tattoos, this preliminary evidence suggests that more research is needed to address the diversity of tattooing and VBM as a whole.



learning||training||employee tattoos||visible tattoos||VBM||perceived trustworthiness