Psychology of Tattoos, Body Piercings and Sexual Activity

tattooedcoupleThe psychology of getting a tattoo or body piercing is an interesting one and takes a certain type of person to do it. First of all you need to make the decision to scar your body on a permanent basis. Hopefully you do this because your body is going to look better afterwards but there are several other reasons why you might get one.

Peer pressure can play a factor. Think of the scenario of lads on holiday all getting the same tattoo for the experience. Or even parental pressure, an 8 year old girl is going to find it hard to say ‘sorry mum but I don’t want my ears punctured’.

But for the most part people get tattoos and piercings because they consider the decoration of their body an art. People also often report getting addicted to getting more and more tattoos and piercings because their inspiration keeps on going.

According to The Harris Poll, 2012, a survey performed on 2,016 adult Americans, on average 21% of people have a tattoo and the age bracket most likely to have a tattoo is 30-39. People without tattoos were questioned on their opinions towards them and 50% stated that they thought people with tattoos were more rebellious.

However of the people with tattoos 30% thought themselves to be more sexy with it and 21% said that they feel more attractive and strong.

The most popular body modification in the U.S is ear piercings at 49% but having a body piercing on another part of the body is far less popular at only 7%.

Although tattoos have been growing in popularity and acceptability over the past few years, its going to take longer for them to overtake ear piercing. Also piercing is accepted at a much younger age whereas 84% of people believe that a person should be between the ages of 18 and 21 before they should get a tattoo without parental consent.

Tattoos and Piercings on Women

Women tend to get tattoos and piercings for decoration of their body and are also more likely to get either than a man. This is likely to be related to the evolutionary psychology of the desire of women to decorate themselves to attract a mate. This is reflected in other aspects of the female culture. Having hair styled, putting on make up, cosmetic surgery and ludicrously expensive shoes. Most women will report that they do this to make themselves feel good but if that’s the case then why do men not feel the compulsion to make themselves feel just as good by putting on lipstick in the morning?

Do Tattoos and Piercings Make Women More Attractive?

The answer to this is, sometimes. Probably not the answer you were looking for but allow me to explain. A study performed by Guéguen, 2013 asked several male participants on a beach to rate a woman on how easy they think it would be to have sex with them on the first date. Half of the time the woman had a temporary butterfly tattoo on and the other half of the time they had plain skin. The results were remarkable. The woman was thought to be far easier to approach when she was wearing the tattoo but it didn’t have an effect on how attractive she was rated.

This could be because males are very visual creatures when it comes to sexual attraction and the tattoo or piercing could be seen as a signal of sexual availability. ‘She likes to decorate herself perhaps shes trying to attract someone’ could be the thoughts going on at a primeval level.

Some evidence would seem to back up this perception about women with piercings as well. According to the study performed by Rovardo & Colleen, 2010 women with body piercings were found to be more likely than women without to have premarital intercourse.

Tattoos and Piercings on Men

Tattoos and piercings on men are seen by themselves very differently than how women perceive their tattoos. Men often get tattoos as a mark of camaraderie or because of an event that they want to connect with.

With regards to how they see themselves afterwards, tattooed men view themselves as more attractive than men without tattoos and also report themselves as having more sexual activity Drews et al, 2000.

Do Tattoos and Piercings Make Men More Attractive?

Well again it does depend on your own personal preferences. Often it is more likely that women with tattoos will find men with tattoos more attractive because they have something in common. An instant topic of conversation has massive advantages in starting a dialogue with someone you are attracted to.

Also it has been found that women tend to be put off by large skin covering tattoos but one or two small tattoos have no effect on attractiveness.

On the whole piercings in men are still seen to have a stigma and far less men have piercings than they have tattoos. Often ear piercings can have feminine connotations but body piercings in other parts of the body show a certain rebellious nature encouraging the ‘bad boy’ stereotype.

Do you find Tattoos and piercings attractive? Please let us know in the comments section.

Please share. It really helps us a lot.

About Alexander Burgemeester

24 Responses to “Psychology of Tattoos, Body Piercings and Sexual Activity”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. David says:

    I’m a male with most of my body tattooed. I see the gym 4-5x a week. Ears pierced (3 piercing) and nipples pierced. I love the look of tattoos and piercings……

  2. Olivia Johnson says:

    just by going through the comments, i would conclude that tattoos and body piercing shows that the victim is insecure.

  3. Robin says:

    Personally, I have enjoyed art
    Seeing more than clothes on a body seems interesting. Thinking back getting a tattoo was a jump, I was warned at my second job to never get one, they blur with time- inks may be better now adays than years past. I did not question the tattoo artist enough, I think he was having a bad day in my memory.
    I had looked forward to getting skin art for years, had looked at tattoo magizine looked at books, and even tryed to drawl one out for my ex boyfriend fiancé ex husband that can be covered w his short sleeve shirt.

    If I add to mine I will surely think about it – and hopefully find an skin tattoo artist that doesn’t seem mad but in tune with what is getting done. It is almost a permanent item on your body – my 2-3 tattoos have personal meaning and can be covered easily. Thank you second tattoo artist wear ever you may be working or chilling out now adays.

  4. CoonAlex says:

    “Most women will report that they do this to make themselves feel good but if that’s the case then why do men not feel the compulsion to make themselves feel just as good by putting on lipstick in the morning?”

    So Basically, What most women report is not valid because men don’t showcase the same behaviour. For a Neuro Psychologist, that is surely not the most brilliant piece.

    Same type of people who think that because women dress a certain way they are “asking for it”


    • Vannh says:

      As if everything women do is for men.

      More women get up and wear lipstick than men because that’s how we’re conditioned from birth.

      You’d think someone writing an article about “psychology” would get that.

  5. Jake says:

    Aren’t people with tattoos more likely to psychopaths?

  6. Liam Hughes says:

    I think healthy skin is a blessing..people born with blemishes on their skin look to have them corrected. In my opinion it shows a disregard for their skin. The term ” tattoos are fashionable” is confusing as fashions change all the time but tattoo’s are permanent. We change the decor in our houses..change pictures and paint colours every now and then because it would drive us mad to live with the same thing forever. We change our hairstyles all the time but who could live with the same haircut forever?? What we need is someone to invent a tattoo ink that dissapears after several years. Giving you an option that does not exist currently. Tattooing is prominent in prisons……why is this I ask.?

  7. John says:

    I find tattoos and body piercings very unattractive and a sign of insecurity on both men and women. Essentially an outward statement of “I’m not interesting or attractive enough as I was born”. I would be interested in a study of the relationship of excessive body piercing or tattoos to diagnosed psychological issues or even relationship to the probability of STDs, abortions, multiple partners, drug use and other reckless behavior. I have never and would never date a woman who has a fetish for tattoos or piercings.. A womans body is the most beautiful thing in the world ‘As-is”.

    There’s a social sense that tattoos and piercings are “cool” in todays youth and I beleive a lot of normal people get one or two tattoos or piercings that they often later regret in order to rebel a bit.

  8. Andrew says:

    I am 38 this year and a Male looking for a Female partner. I almost totally hate tattoos but not quite. I am looking for a partner with no tattoos showing when they are formally dressed. I’ve always thought women getting tattoos was trying to assert ownership of their body following a bad relationship. I hated belly button rings, nose piercings, and tattoos but always liked pierced ears. So nowadays I quite like belly button rings, a stud earring in one nostril, and 1 set, possibly 2 piercings in each ear, but no punk jewellery. … I don’t see tattoos as art and when I see a beautiful woman with skulls and a grim reaper tatooed across the breasts for example, it makes me cringe, and I think they are unstable/have lost their beauty, and in general if they have tattoos are too masculine.
    ….However, oddly enough, in recent years I have come to find attractive a Chinese symbol or some sort of symbol that has deep positive meaning for the Woman, tattooed on the back of her neck, out of sight under her hair, or a small tattoo on her lower back.
    ….Seems to me that everyone was getting tattoos to be an individual, and by not getting one had made me an individual, since they are so common. Also more concerning is that since so many people have tattoos they are now turning to other forms of body mutilation in a bid to be an individual. Tattoos already look bad and when they are old and wrinkled they will look herendous. That’s my opinion anyway.

  9. Andy says:

    I have most of my body tattooed, 95%. I have a worked out body, in the gym most days. I also have many ear piercings & my nipples. I think they are hot on both sexes.

  10. Rosy says:

    As a tattooed mom of 3.
    With a career, and a head on my shoulders, shame all you who commented calling people with tattoos all sorts of names, I guess your parents never taught to you not to ever judge a book by its cover .

    I find tattoos attractive (depending on the artwork of course)

    • Charles says:

      I find almost all tattoos to be ugly and the more the uglier. Now by that I am not making a judgment on the person who has them. I am making a judgment on what I think tattoos look like. I think I am allowed to have my own taste on what looks good and what doesn’t.

    • Penny says:

      I find it atractive .looking gor a man like you.

    • Buddy says:

      Hey Rosy,

      Please come back here in 10-15 yrs and post and update and let us know how “Beautiful” your Tattoos, I mean, your body art looks on your aging skin.

      Just saying

  11. dj says:

    Oh my. These (assuming) young and (assuming) creative and intelligent people seem eager to pre-judge.

    At 64, educated and professional, I have body art which is not easily seen by the public. I use it to relive special moments in life. I do not need the approval of others nor do I look to shock

  12. David says:

    I find ppl putting on tattoos and multiple piercing to come from a disorganized poor family. I believe they are more likely to use drugs or smoke something and likely high risk for stds. Most std ppl I know have one piercing or another. They are likely to be single parents and very unproductive to the society. They are likely not end up in Harvard or any premier School . Their children are likely to be drop outs and have teen pregnancy or use early drugs. They are likely from a ghetto and poor society

  13. Andy says:

    I don’t have any tats or pierces but I strongly disagree with commentators below. People with high quality tattoos look waaaaaaay more attractive than they would look with exactly the same appearance but without them.

    The only thing that does spoil your appearance rather than improve it are small tattoos here and there. They look like imperfections, somewhat similar to acne or I don’t even know what. Large tattoos that cover a lot of skin integrally, on the other hand, are really attractive. The photo at this article’s beginning may be a good example, actually.

    Also I personally dislike piercing including that on ears as I find unnatural holes in a body disturbing. However, I admit that it’s nothing more than my personal taste.

    Now speaking of personality differences, I recognize that the MOST intelligent people I met in my life don’t have any tattoos — and I’m speaking academic professor in prestigious university level intelligent people.
    Shall I, however, think about people any tiniest bit less smart than that, any correlation between intelligence and having or not having tattoos immediately disappears.

    Now I’m OK with people that don’t have any tattoos, heck I’m one of them temporarily. But the ones who are talking sh*t about those who do have tats, like the ones below me — I think they are just too scared of everything. And it drives them insane is that someone isn’t as scared as they are — and his or her tattoo is a proof of that. And that’s what feeds their anger.

    P.S.: Yes, the most intelligent people I met didn’t have tattoos, but the same is true about most miserable and dishonest as well as most petty and middlebrow people I met.

  14. Jeffrey Martin says:

    It just bogles the mind that women get tattoos all over their bodies and they think it’s sexy ! NOT !!!
    The only thing as pathetic is afros getting
    tattoos , since you can barely see them ! This world is screwed up with their logic of their appearances !
    Oh well , my views are not sexist or racist and hopefully will be viewed as helpful ! I just wonder when common sense will be popular again ?

  15. Cat Woodul says:

    my opinion is that people with tattoos are pathetically insecure, not very intelligent, promiscuous and generally trashy. Women look sl*tty and men look slimy, maybe even criminal. I will never understand mutilating one’s own body. And, by the way, it isn’t art either.

    One thing I looked for in a husband is ‘NO tattoos’. I found him. He is intelligrnt and handsome too!

    • chloe toland says:

      I have 20 tattoos and 19 peircings, I am 18, almost 19 years old, I studied art and Sociology at 6 form and I am now studying Technical Theatre specialising in sound design and Stage Management.
      If you beilieve that I am not smart enough please explain why I have won awards for my campaigning in Mental Health, why was I elected to be on the UK youth Parliament, and took part as a member for over 5 years… feel free to look me up Chloe Toland.
      I feel that tattoo’s and peircings, make someone much more individual and so much more creative.

    • Jacob Anthony Medina says:

      Thats the thing though… you dont need to understand others. Just accept people for who they are. I graduated top 10 percent of my class and have tattoos and piercings. I’m accepted among a group of colleagues whom you’d never see with the likes of myself, dont you ever go judging someone because of what they like. Only God can judge me and he has blessed me with the intelligence I need to further my career in biochemical engineering.

  16. keith says:

    piercings are subhuman

  17. Tamars says:

    No. I find body piercings and tattoos disturbing and I can not understand why anyone would not feel attractive enough already without messing up their gorgeous as is bodies, but then, I’m an artist and see paintings and sculptures as artistic self expression, never mutilating the human body with graffitti, most of which I find disturbing and hideous.

Leave A Comment...