Murray State Theses and Dissertations


Previous research has been inconsistent in its findings regarding the associations between body modifications (e.g., piercings, tattoos, augmentation, scarification, split tongue) and the Big Five personality traits (i.e., openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, neuroticism). All traits have been found to be significantly correlated with body modification in at least one study, but their significance differed from study to study. The purpose of the current study was to examine the associations between body modification and each domain of personality concurrently to add to the literature surrounding differences between modified and unmodified individuals. To participate in this study, participants were asked to complete the Opinions of Body Modifications and Big Five Inventory. Participants consisted of 94 people; 51 who had at least one form of body modification and 43 who had not. We hypothesized that those with body modification would differ in personality from those without modification and that participants who had higher opinions about modifications, would be higher in openness to experience than those with low opinions of those modifications. Five separate Independent Samples T-tests revealed participants with body modification were not significantly different from those without modification in terms of openness to experience, extraversion, or agreeableness but that they did score lower in conscientiousness and higher in neuroticism. No correlation between higher opinions of body modification and trait openness was found. This work has important implications regarding biases and discrimination. Specifically, knowing the differences between people with and without body modification could challenge existing public biases and could reduce discrimination in the workplace, both from employers and from the public.

Year manuscript completed


Year degree awarded


Author's Keywords

Body Modification, Personality, Big Five Inventory, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism

Committee Chair

Amanda Joyce

Committee Member

Laura Liljequist

Committee Member

Michael Bordieri

Committee Member

Alexandra Hendley

Document Type