10 Facts About the Psychology of Tattoos

6. Risk-Taking and Thrill-Seeking

In the early 1900s, one of the main places where people got their tattoos was at the circus. Traveling carnival workers were known for having a lot of tattoos, and every troupe usually had an artist who would tattoo members of the public for a fee. People who got a tattoo done did it because they thought it was far more exciting than the rides and the sideshow attractions.  

According to several studies, people with tattoos are more likely to take risks in their life. For example, people with tattoos have a higher probability of smoking cigarettes, which is taking the risk of possibly developing lung cancer one day. Anyone who gets a tattoo also knows that sometimes, the artist doesn’t exactly do a very good job, and going under the needle is taking a risk that the artwork is not going to end up exactly how you imagined it would. There are some pretty awful tattoos out there, and they all started with someone who was willing to take a risk.

5. Uniqueness

According to Dr. Vinita Mehta from Psychology Today, a poll of personal traits of people with tattoos led to a few common similarities. People with tattoos generally want to feel unique, and they want to explore their life and live experiences that are outside of the norm.

One study showed that women who were experiencing anxiety and low self-esteem who got tattoos suddenly got a huge burst in new confidence and happiness immediately after getting the tattoo. However, after around three weeks, women begin to feel anxiety about the tattoo, and begin to have second thoughts. Men, on the other hand, had way less anxiety or regret about their decision, and it only continued to make them feel better about themselves. In fact, women are far more likely to get a tattoo removed than men.

In 2006, a dermatologist named Myrna L. Armstrong at the Texas Tech University Health Services Center polled 196 women who were getting their tattoos removed. She asked the reasons for why they got the tattoo in the first place, and why they decided to remove it. The #1 answer about why they got the tattoo was that they wanted to feel unique. By the time they turned 30, however, they wanted it gone. The #1 answer as to why they were getting rid of it was because they had become embarrassed of the tattoo as they got older.

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