Does Getting a Tattoo Make You More Angry?

Though I do not agree with it, tattoos always seem to get the short end of the stick along with the people who have them. Parents never want their children to get tattoos because they are often scared it will change them, by making them more rebellious. Employers are scared to hire people with tattoos because for some unknown reason they might not be as trustworthy as the other applicant that does not have tattoos. Is there any truth to this at all though? Are people with tattoos really more rebellious or untrustworthy? Or do they just have a bad stereotype and it is all in our minds?


Viren Swami, a professor of psychology at University of Westminster, conducted an experiment in which he sought to find truth, if there was any, in whether people with tattoos are more aggressive than people without tattoos. He surveyed a group of 378 adults from London to get information about their aggression levels and rebellious nature. Out of 378 people, 25.7% of them had a tattoo, so only about a quarter which seems like kind of small sample size. The null hypothesis would be that tattoos do not have any correlation with aggression or rebelliousness, nothing is going on. The alternative hypothesis would be that tattoos do have a part in peoples aggression and rebellion. The results of Swami’s experiment were interesting. Adults with tattoos showed higher levels of reactive aggression and rebellion than those with no tattoos. However, when it came to proactive anger and rebellion, there did not seem to be a huge difference between the groups. So according to this study, those with tattoos may be quicker to react more aggressively in certain situations but not be proactive with their aggression.

So if people with tattoos are more likely to have higher aggression levels, is it the tattoos that are causing that? Or, are people who are more naturally aggressive and rebellious more likely to get tattoos? A third variable might also be responsible such as past life events. Finally, it might just be due to chance. However, I don’t believe that this study had a big enough sample size to conclude any solid information. I’m not sure surveying people always brings out the most honest answers too, but there might not have been a better way to gather the information. This study also didn’t take into account the reasoning behind why people got the tattoos. That could also affect the outcome. I wonder if the size or shape of the tattoo might affect this study. The bigger the tattoo, the more aggressive?

Another similar study was done at the University of Cincinnati by Keith King. King was studying if college students with tattoos were more likely to be involved with risky behaviors, such as drugs, than students without tattoos. Almost 30% of the 988 students that were surveyed had a tattoo. He found that those with tattoos were more likely to be linked with risky behavior. Again, it is possible the risky behavior was causing the tattoos, this study couldn’t say for sure.

Despite all of this information that I just talked about, I don’t think it’s okay to judge anybody on whether they have tattoos or not. People that don’t have tattoos get angry and do drugs too, it’s not a one and done deal. I think tattoos can be very beautiful and usually have incredible stories attached to them. I would need to see several other studies saying the same thing to believe this. I don’t think these studies should discourage employers from giving jobs to people with tattoos. Everyone is different and it’s important that we get to know one another on the inside, not just the outside.


Study #1: 

Study #2: 


7 thoughts on “Does Getting a Tattoo Make You More Angry?

  1. Jon Shanfelder

    I think it is wonderful what you have done with this article. You did research on this topic and found a result you did not particularly want to get, and you still reported it and stated that is the information that you find. I would like to see more information on whether this is a reverse causation situation in which more rebellious people get tattoos rather than people with tattoos become more rebellious. I wonder if this information would extend to body piercings, gauges, and colorfully dies hair?

  2. Abigail Louise Edwards

    Hi Hi!

    As a person with a tattoo I gravitated to this post right away. But I can tell you that buy just looking at me, you would NEVER guess that I have a tattoo, let alone a fairly large one. The way I dress, act, and talk does not by any means fit the stereotype of the type of person with a tattoo. So I agree 100% that no judgement should be passed on people with tattoos, because that in no way reflects their core values as a person. As for tattoos being associated with risky behavior, this may be likely according to some studies, but I know in my case I don’t act any more “risky” than I did before I got my tattoo. I know many people with tattoos, including myself, who don’t do drugs, never have, and I feel it is safe to assume, they never will. I love my tattoo and hope someday to get many more, and I can tell you right now that my trustworthiness and likely to rebel is unaffected by something as superficial as whats on my skin.


  3. Danielle Megan Sobel

    This blog title made me click it right away, as I had never put much thought into this topic. I like the way you incorporated anecdotes about tattoos in the home, personal opinions, and statistics into your blog. These additions really made the whole piece flow together. I think if you sectioned your sub topics with bold text it may make the ideas more defined, however they were still clear. I found an article that contradicts your point and gives a new perspective on how moods are related to tattoos:

  4. Darby Helen Smith

    Although there were no clear answers found within the hypotheses mentioned in this blog, I still found it to be very interesting. Also, I agree with you on the fact that surveying people is not always very accurate. The person could be feeling a certain way that day, which would make them answer differently, or their behavior and personality could have changed overtime since they got the tattoo. I think that was a very good point to bring up regarding this study!

  5. Gulianna E Garry

    This is a very interesting topic that I never put much thought into. I never considered getting a tattoo because of stories I’ve heard from my mother when working. She would tell me that if her superiors saw a tattoo when trying to get a job they would not hire them. I think when getting certain tattoos it can be a risk vs reward scenario. Since this post talks about if more rebellious get tattoos or do tattoos make people more rebellious, I wonder if it is the same with risk vs reward. Are more rebellious people willing to take the risk than the reward?

  6. Jackson Grey Hope

    This is a very interesting topic and I can see both sides to this argument. I have been considering getting a tattoo for a while now and I think tattoos are great if they have the right meaning. I also think that some meat heads will just get tattoos to make themselves look more “jacked” and to show their body off more. There are several other things that can be affecting this anger as well. For example, maybe some people that get tattoos have had family issues in the past, driving their anger, or maybe people some of these people are alcoholics and make a decision under the influence to get tattoos. Also, in terms of job opportunities, I agree that no employers should judge on whether or not someone has a tattoo in a hiring situation, because they do not know the story behind it. I also think that it is a smart idea to get tattoos in places that can be easily hidden for jobs as well because you never know how someone will react to it. I also believe that the numbers of tattoos can play a role too. If someone has one tattoo, maybe they will be less likely to have anger issues compared to someone with 10 tattoos per say. Here’s an article showing some of these statistics.

  7. Avery Elizabeth Holland

    Hi Monica,
    I agree that people should never be judged on their appearance including those with tattoos. I do believe however, that in today’s society tattoos are more widely accepted and seen less as a negative attribute to people with tattoos. In my own personal experience, my high school teachers with tattoos would practically showcase them. The head of the math department would wear short sleeve shirts all year long revealing 2 entire arms covered with colorful ink. Granted, a high school environment is much more relaxed than a corporate environment, but I still believe it is a step towards tattoo acceptance in the workplace. I’m interested to see if there is a study that takes into account the difference between females vs. males with tattoos and if there is any difference is risk/ drug behaviors. In addition to that, I wonder if there is a double standard between males and females with tattoos in terms of job opportunities. Is it harder for a female with a visible tattoo to find a corporate job as compared to a male with the same tattoo? All in all, good post and ideas!

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