Who Gets Tattoos? Demographic and Behavioral Correlates of Ever Being Tattooed in a Representative Sample of Men and Women

Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health & Society (ARCSHS), La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia.
Annals of epidemiology (Impact Factor: 2). 01/2012; 22(1):51-6. DOI: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2011.10.005
Source: PubMed


Despite recent increases in the popularity of tattooing, little is known about the prevalence and characteristics of adults who have ever been tattooed. We investigated demographic and behavioral correlates of ever getting tattooed in an adult population.
Computer-assisted telephone interviews were completed by a representative sample of 8656 men and women ages 16-64 years in Australia.
A total of 14.5% of respondents had ever been tattooed, and 2.4% of respondents had been tattooed in the year before the interview. Men were more likely than women to report a tattoo, but the highest rates of tattooing were found among women in their 20s (29.4%). Men and women ages 20-39 were most likely to have been tattooed, as were men with lower levels of education, tradesmen, and women with live-out partners. Tattooing was also associated with risk-taking behaviours, including smoking, greater numbers of lifetime sexual partners, cannabis use (women only) and ever having depression (men only).
Tattooing has increased in popularity during the past decade. Yet tattoos still appear to be a marker for risk-taking behavior in adults.

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    • "Likewise, tattoo possession among college students is associated with increased, earlier, and riskier sexual activity (Burger & Finkel, 2002; Drews, Allison, & Probst, 2000; Koch, Roberts, Armstrong, & Owen, 2005, 2010), the use of illegal substances (Armstrong, Roberts, Owen, & Koch, 2004; Nathanson, Paulhus, & Williams, 2006), and a history of criminal arrest (Koch et al., 2010). Among adult, community samples, too, tattooing is associated with risky behaviours, including smoking, greater number of lifetime sexual partners, and drug use (Heywood et al., 2012; Laumann & Derick, 2006; but see Adams, 2009). These associations have been used to bolster calls for clinicians to use tattooing as an indicator for further investigation into risktaking behaviours, at least among adolescents (Stephens, 2003). "
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    ABSTRACT: Emerging evidence suggests that there are few differences in the personality profiles of tattooed and non-tattooed adults. To add to this literature, we compared tattooed and non-tattooed adults in terms of their willingness to take risks in multiple domains, as well as their impulsivity and boredom proneness. Adults from central Europe (N = 1006) completed measures of the afore-mentioned concepts and reported the number of tattoos they had. In total, 19.1% of respondents had at least one tattoo, with no significant differences as a function of sex, nationality, education, or marital status. We also found that tattooed adults had higher motor impulsivity and were more willing to take risks in recreational and health and safety domains. However, effect sizes of these differences were negligible to small. Among tattooed adults, there were no significant associations between the number of tattoos possessed and any of the measured variables. These results suggest that tattooed and non-tattooed adults nowadays are more similar than different.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2016 · Personality and Individual Differences
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    • "Aside from being scant, the available evidence on tattoos, aggression, and rebelliousness is also dated. With up to a quarter of the population in post-industrial countries sporting at least one tattoo (e.g., Heywood et al., 2012; Stieger, Pietschnig, Kastner, Voracek, & Swami, 2010), tattoos are now mainstream and transcend earlier sociodemographic boundaries. Emerging evidence suggests that there are few differences in the personality profiles of tattooed and non-tattooed adults, and that any significant differences have negligible effect sizes (Swami, 2012; Swami et al., 2012; Tate & Shelton, 2008). "
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    ABSTRACT: One stereotype of people with tattoos is that they are more aggressive and rebellious than people without tattoos. However, studies examining differences in these traits between tattooed and non-tattooed individuals are dated and have returned equivocal results. To re-examine this issue, we asked 378 adults from London, UK, to complete self-report measures of aggression and rebelliousness, and to report the number of tattoos they possessed. Of this sample, 25.7% possessed at least one tattoo, with no sex difference in the distribution of tattoo status. We found that tattooed adults had significantly higher reactive rebelliousness, anger, and verbal aggression than non-tattooed adults. However, effect sizes were small and there were also no significant between-group differences in terms of proactive rebelliousness, physical aggression, and hostility. These results suggest that, while stereotypes may contain a kernel of truth, they likely present an outmoded picture of tattooed adults.
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