Date of Award

Summer 2000

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Bardwell, Rebecca

Second Advisor

Hoy, Mary P.

Third Advisor

Schweizer, Heidi


Adornment with body art is on the rise in all segments of our society. The limits of what is considered acceptable adornment are being stretched daily in schools and businesses across our country. This study was designed to examine the perceptions and attributions ascribed to persons adorned with body art in the form of eyebrow piercing within the employment domain. This study focused upon the roles that social salience, impression formation, goodness of fit, and attribution theory play in employers' perceptions of individuals adorned with eyebrow piercing. Surveys, which asked participants to view: (2) potential job applicants adorned with eyebrow rings and (4) unadorned potential job applicants in a simulated job fair videotaped presentation, were completed by 114 employers (84% return rate) within the greater Milwaukee area. The surveys consisted of demographic questions, Likert type ratings for image, impression, and interview potential, as well as an overall ranking score for each applicant based upon the videotaped segment. Participants also completed a set of 20 Semantic Differential Paired Adjectives for the general concept of body art. Personal experience with body art, perceived acceptability of several forms of body art (tattoos, nose piercing, eyebrow piercing, lip piercing, tongue piercing, and multiple ear piercing), and company policies towards body art were surveyed. Simple correlation analyses confirmed that adornment with eyebrow piercing had a significant effect on employers' overall ratings of image, impression, recommendation for interview, and overall ranking of applicants. Results indicated that applicants adorned with eyebrow rings were rated and ranked significantly lower than were the unadorned applicants. This study found an overall lack of acceptance for adornment with eyebrow piercing in the workplace regardless of the type or size of business. This current employment climate might well provide a cautionary note for potential job applicants considering present or future adornment.



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