Do tattooed people have different psychological traits?

Myths and truths about this belief


Body modification has always been an interesting topic for psychologists in all of its forms of practice.

Tattoos play an important role, and tattooed people have been regarded differently for many years.

Considered as more extroverted or more shy people, often related to urban tribes, some tattoo styles are associated to specific personality traits.

To have a professional opinion and clear all doubts, we have talked to Rosalba Varaceta, an expert in psychology.

What is a personality trait?

It is a mix of characteristics, emotions, and the predominant ways of thinking and acting of a person, what defines us as an individual.

Cultural and social matters also conform personality traits, as they shape the person’s environment, including ethics, morality and personal beliefs such as humbleness, honesty, ambition, creativity, persistence, braveness, conformity, impulsiveness, distraction, pride, demotivation, etc.

These determine people’s capacity to confront situations and adapt to the circumstances.

For better or for worse, tattooed people are typically associated with: being extrovert, have a rich social life, or the necessity to feel unique and stand out from the of the people.

In fact, not so long ago, tattooed people used to be regarded as more rebel or even more conflictive. But this has been proven false and today, in fact, these misinterpretations are becoming meaningless.

Are tattooed people different from others?

At this point, Dr. Rosalba will clear some doubts. Is it true that tattooed people are psychologically distinct from those who do not have tattoos?

“To this matter, we could state that those who collect fancy cars, coke bottles or paper boats have different psychological traits, but we can’t assure it. It depends on self-regulation. If we talk about an anomic person, perhaps impulsivity and pleasure may predominate over other things.

If the regulation is more socio-nomic, perhaps that person may just follow the mainstream, and act in order to be accepted by the group.

It is key to understand what each person does and the reasons behind each decision. Generalizations often explain something out of context, and they can be detrimental.

We could conclude then that when a person develops a specific personality trait, it does not have to do with having tattoos or not. Tattoos are not the cause, as personality traits are previous to tattoos.

Are tattooed people addicted to ink?

It is said that once you start having tattoos, you cannot stop, and you become addicted to it. But many people don’t agree on this, as they state that addictive personalities are actually expressing themselves through tattoos, as they could be expressed in any other way.

According to the doctor:

Here we refer again to self-regulation. For example, if the person’s regulation is anomic, then pleasure and desire will be predominant, enabling addictive behaviours more easily.

However, in more autonomous self-regulation processes that follow criteria, responsibility and awareness parameters, the results won’t be the same”.

According to the World Health Organization, an addiction is defined as an illness that creates physical and emotional dependency to a substance, activity or relationship, where social and cultural environment, as well as personalities, result at risk.

Although, we could approach the so-called tattoo addiction through the experience of pain. Many people decide to get tattooed just for the joy of feeling the needles.

An explanation to this may be the fact that pricking the skin liberates adrenaline and endorphins in a way that pain could be confused with pleasure.

That is why addiction effects and the feeling of having a tattoo could be mixed up, as the body naturally defends itself in the same way it would do from substances, by releasing these chemicals through pain.

But, by no means could tattoos induce addiction because the body does not create dependency towards them as it does to substances.

Being different does not only depend on tattoos

To finish, we must clarify that no psychological study can determine accurately that tattooed people are different just for having tattoos.

Classification of individuals inside social and cultural groups are defined by other aspects that are far from a tattooed body.

Even though certain cultures use tattoos as identity marks, it shouldn’t be related to psychology.

In the same way, the belief of becoming addicted to ink for the mere act of being punctured by the needle should be discarded. As most studies relate addictions to personality traits rather than to getting tattooed or not.

Tattoos are less and less judged, and today people have normalized this practice. However, they are not a central part of personality, rather a means for expressing a feeling or pre-existing personality trait.

So, if you thought it was that way, this post might have helped you see it the other way around.