Are tattooed adults really more aggressive and rebellious than those without tattoos?

Viren Swami, Helen Gaughan, Ulrich S Tran, Tim Kuhlmann, Stefan Stieger, Martin Voracek

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

28 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-152
Number of pages4
JournalBody Image
Publication statusPublished - 01 Sept 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Adult
  • Aggression/psychology
  • Anger
  • Body Image
  • Female
  • Humans
  • London
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Self Report
  • Stereotyping
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tattooing/psychology
  • Young Adult


Dive into the research topics of 'Are tattooed adults really more aggressive and rebellious than those without tattoos?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this