Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Adult, Career and Higher Education

Major Professor

Waynne B. James, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Jeffrey D. Kromrey, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Liliana Rodriguez-Campos, Ph.D.

Committee Member

William H. Young III, Ed.D.


Tattoo, Funeral Professional, Mortuary Science Candidates, Bias


The purpose of this research was to determine whether there were biases among funeral home and cemetery professionals with regards to hiring mortuary science graduates with tattoos.

An anonymous survey including a photograph of either a male or female with various degrees of visible body art, ranging from none to extreme, was sent to 1484 members of the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association. The primary methodology used to determine whether biases existed regarding visible body art were a semantic differential and a hireability scale. The survey was designed to gather information related to the following three research questions:

1. What are employers’ perceptions regarding hireability of individuals based on extent of visible body art?

2. Are there differences in the employers’ perceptions regarding visible body art based on the gender of the individuals in the photographs?

3. What are the differences in perceptions regarding visible body art based on respondent age, gender, and their own extent of visible body art?

Of the surveys distributed, responses totaled 151. Due to incomplete information, 74 were discarded. The number of surveys used in the analysis was 77.

Results indicated no specific biases of employers' perception towards potential hirees with body art. These results were based on multiple categories, including age and gender of respondent, extent of body art of respondent, and respondent position within their companies.

Although the responses were neutral and showed no significant bias towards hirees with body art, mortuary science students should be aware of potential biases of the families served by the funeral homes, including age of the deceased and family members, as well as the conservative nature of the funeral profession.