Tat will tell: Tattoos and time preferences

Bradley J. Ruffle, Anne E. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Survey and experimental evidence documents discrimination against tattooed individuals in the labor market and in commercial transactions. Thus, individuals’ decision to get tattooed may reflect short-sighted time preferences. We show that, according to numerous measures, those with tattoos, especially visible ones, are more short-sighted and impulsive than the non-tattooed. Almost nothing mitigates these results, neither the motive for the tattoo, the time contemplated before getting tattooed nor the time elapsed since the last tattoo. Even the expressed intention to get a(nother) tattoo predicts increased short-sightedness and helps establish the direction of causality between tattoos and short-sightedness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)566-585
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Economic Behavior and Organization
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Experimental economics
  • Impulsivity
  • Tattoo
  • Time preferences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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