The Truth About Tattoos

11 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2018

See all articles by Bradley J. Ruffle

Bradley J. Ruffle

McMaster University

Anne Wilson

Wilfrid Laurier University - Department of Psychology

Date Written: June 18, 2018


Despite their ubiquity, tattoos continue to be associated with dishonesty. Yet, scarce behavioral evidence exists. We test whether the tattooed and non-tattooed differ in their dishonest reporting in two consecutive incentivized experiments. First, subjects toss a coin privately five times and receive payment for each heads reported. After, subjects perform five additional coin tosses with the payment for each heads reported increased tenfold. We find few differences in the reporting behavior between the tattooed and non-tattooed in the number of heads reported in either reporting task or the difference between the two. Strategic dishonesty is limited to a small minority of subjects and to only one additional reported heads in the high-stakes tosses.

Keywords: experimental economics, tattoo, honesty, strategic cheating

JEL Classification: C91, Z10

Suggested Citation

Ruffle, Bradley J. and Wilson, Anne, The Truth About Tattoos (June 18, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Bradley J. Ruffle (Contact Author)

McMaster University ( email )

1280 Main Street West
Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4M4

HOME PAGE: http://

Anne Wilson

Wilfrid Laurier University - Department of Psychology ( email )


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