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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Quasi-Experimental Examination of Voluntary Disfigurement, Stigmatization, and the Behavioral Immune System
by Graham, Stephen, Ph.D., Northcentral University, 2018, 147; 10827563
Abstract (Summary)

Assuming the perspective of evolutionary psychology it was hypothesized that tattoo stigma is the result of evolved socially exclusionary mechanisms activated by heuristic cues signaling a potential threat of infectious disease. It was conjectured that perception of atypical morphology, like the discoloration associated with significant tattooing, would activate into working memory implicit associations linking tattooing with infectious disease, triggering an aversive reaction. Using a quantitative quasi-experimental approach, the study measured participant implicit associations between disease connoting concepts and the perception of images of tattooed people as compared with images of non-tattooed people. Implicit associations between disease connoting concepts and tattooing were measured using an Implicit Association Test. An assumption made by the IAT developers that people accomplish tasks faster and with greater accuracy when the tasks are based on well-established learned cognitive routines or associations that are the product of evolved adaptive mechanisms, as compared with unpracticed tasks. This study provides the first empirical test of a causal link between tattooing, disease threat management, and stigma. Findings indicate that a significant majority of the sample associated tattooing with infectious disease, this association is not affected by the participants having tattoos or expressing a positive or neutral attitude toward tattooed people. Given these findings, it is recommended that future research more broadly test the construct of voluntary disfigurement (e.g., body scaring, piercing, and “face painting”) which BIS theory predicts would be likely triggers for BIS reactions.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: McKiernan, Patrick
Commitee: Avena, Nicole, Smity, Donna
School: Northcentral University
Department: School of Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 79/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Behavioral psychology, Psychology
Keywords: Behavioral immune system, Disease management, Disgust, Evolutionary psychology, Stigma/prejudice, Tattooing
Publication Number: 10827563
ISBN: 978-0-438-08205-2
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