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Tattooed psychologists seen as more ‘confident, empathetic’: USask study

Click to play video: 'Research shows stigma around tatted professionals is coming to an end' Research shows stigma around tatted professionals is coming to an end
WATCH: Research shows stigma around tatted professionals is coming to an end – Dec 18, 2021

For the longest time, body art has been deemed unprofessional or linked to negative stereotypes.

However, the stigma around tattoos has been changing.

A study done by University of Saskatchewan Department of Psychology graduate, Alexandra Zidenberg, shows psychologists are viewed as more competent and trustworthy when they are inked.

Saskatoon tattoo artist and owner of Honey Bee Tattoo shop Haley Gardiner said, ‘it is about time.’

Over 500 participants, mainly from Saskatchewan, were shown three different photos of the same psychologist, but one of them had a prominent skull and flower tattoo.

The tatted professional was perceived to be more confident, empathetic and likable.

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Read more: ‘My schedule is really packed’: How COVID-19 has led to long wait times for tattoos

“Having super visible tattoos is a form of vulnerability which I think people would be able to relate to a lot,” said Gardiner.

Zidenberg got the idea to research the connection between psychologists and tattoos when she was out for dinner with some friends working in professional fields. They expressed concerns about the stigma of their own tattoos in the workplace.

She found multiple studies showing professionals in other fields did not get the same positive response.

“People tended to perceive tattooed medical professionals as being less competent and they had more negative feelings towards them,” said Zidenberg.

Read more: Dead Saskatoon tattoo artist’s skin removed, preserved to honour his work

According to the researcher, the shift toward tattoos may be connected to a younger generation or the profession itself.

“You’re often spilling your secrets and talking about really personal information. That might be a little bit different from the way we talk to other medical professionals.”

Read more: Study shows Canadian workers continue to struggle with mental health

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Gardiner related the change to personal experience and human connection.

“Tattoos often are an indication of you know personal struggle or triumph that this person has decided to represent on their body,” said Gardiner.

According to an Ipsos Reid poll conducted by Global News back in 2011, two in 10 Canadians have at least one tattoo on their body.

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