Sue Frantz

Example: Experiment on women’s perception of tattooed men

Blog Post created by Sue Frantz on Dec 30, 2016

After covering experiments or as a research methods boost when covering attractiveness, pose this hypothesis to your students: Tattoos on men influence how others perceive the men’s health and attractiveness.

 

Ask students to design an experiment to test this hypothesis, identifying the independent variable (including experimental and control conditions) and the dependent variables. In the design of the experiment, how would students eliminate any potential confounding variables? Circulate among groups as students work through the design. As discussion dies down, ask volunteers to share their experimental designs.

 

Now share with students the experiment conducted by Andrzej Galbarczyk and Anna Ziomkiewicz (2017) using over 2,500 Polish participants recruited through Facebook; all participants self-identified as heterosexual.

 

Researchers used nine non-tattooed male models, photographed from the waist up and without shirts for the control condition. “A professional photographer digitally modified the pictures by adding a black arm tattoo with an abstract, neutral design” for the experimental condition. This means that the only difference in the conditions was the tattoo. Participants were randomly assigned to see one photo for each model pair, and in the nine photos seen, each participant saw at least one tattooed model and one non-tattooed model. The dependent variables were ratings of attractiveness, health, dominance, aggression, fitness as a partner, and fitness as a father. Data were analyzed separately for male and female research participants.

 

Before revealing the results, ask students to predict how the participants responded.

 

Using clickers or a show of hands, ask students:

 

Who did women rate as healthier?

  1. Tattooed men
  2. Non-tattooed men
  3. No difference

[Women rated the tattooed men as healthier]

 

Who did men rate as healthier?

  1. Tattooed men
  2. Non-tattooed men
  3. No difference

[Men didn’t see a health difference between tattooed and non-tattooed men.]

 

Who did women rate as more attractive?

  1. Tattooed men
  2. Non-tattooed men
  3. No difference

[Women didn’t see a difference in attractiveness between tattooed and non-tattooed men.]

 

Who did men rate as more attractive?

  1. Tattooed men
  2. Non-tattooed men
  3. No difference

[Men rated the tattooed men as more attractive.]

 

Who did men and women rate as more masculine, dominant, and aggressive?

  1. Tattooed men
  2. Non-tattooed men
  3. No difference

[Tattooed men.]

 

Who did women rate “as worse potential partners and parents”?

  1. Tattooed men
  2. Non-tattooed men
  3. No difference

[Tattooed men.]

Who did men rate “as worse potential partners and parents”?

  1. Tattooed men
  2. Non-tattooed men
  3. No difference

[No difference.]

 

Ask students to volunteer guesses as to why women would see tattooed men as healthier than non-tattooed men. And why men would see tattooed men as more attractive than non-tattooed men. The article’s authors offer a number of possible explanations, all worthy of further research.

 

 REFERENCE

Galbarczyk, A., & Ziomkiewicz, A. (2017). Tattooed men: Healthy bad boys and good-looking competitorsPersonality and Individual Differences, 106, 122-125. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2016.10.051

Outcomes