Not long ago in history, tattoos were thought to be taboo. Something only bad guys and circus talent had and these were usually people you didn’t want to be seen with. Fortunately, those days are long past and more and more men, and women, are succumbing to the urge to get inked. Today, there are almost 20 million tattooed people in the UK making that one in every three people with at least one tattoo.
Does that mean tattoos are becoming more mainstream? And are people with tattoos more attractive to the opposite sex? Researchers have studied the psychological and emotional responses to tattoos and have come up with an answer.
A Signal of Strength?
Evolutionary biologists in the UK have concluded that having tattoos could be a signal to the opposite sex about how strong we are. After all, getting a tattoo is a painful process and could be dangerous if done improperly. Does this equate having tattoos to the peacock’s brightly coloured tail. Are we trying to show off to find a mate or to display our dominance?
Recently, a research paper published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, studied this effect and set out to find out if people with tattoos are seen by others as more attractive, healthy, and dominant?
Researchers, Andrzej Galbarczyk and Anna Ziomkiewicz, photographed nine shirtless men, none of whom had a tattoo. They then photoshopped a tattoo onto each of the men’s arms. The photos were shown to several hundred volunteers, both male and female and a series of questions were asked. Topics covered included attractiveness, health, masculinity, dominance and aggression. The subjects were also judged on how good a partner and father they would make.
The results? Women thought that the men with tattoos looked healthier but the tattoo didn’t make the men look more or less attractive. Women thought tattooed men would be worse partners and fathers than men without tattoos and both men and women agreed that a man with a tattoo looked more masculine, dominant and aggressive.
So, tattoos may have a dual function: They influence female preference, but also are likely to be important in male-male competition. Could this research quantify all tattooed males and does it have flaws? After all, the men in the photos were different shapes and sizes. Some fit and muscular, others not. Plus, people have different ideas of what they think is attractive and what would make a good mate. Additionally, there is a limitless number of tattoos available and perhaps if the subjects had a different tattoo, that would change the voters’ perspective.
Our take on this is, if you want a tattoo, get one. If someone decides they don’t like you because of the ink on your skin, then maybe they are not right for you. Tattoos can be beautiful, and they can be unattractive. It is all in the eye of the beholder.