Skip to Content

Do tattoos affect your personality?

With tattooing becoming increasingly popular and mainstream, more and more people are expressing themselves through body art. This has led many to wonder: do tattoos actually reflect or affect your personality?

Do tattoos reflect your personality?

Many people get tattoos to express their personality or document important events and people in their lives. In this way, tattoos can reflect personality traits, interests, values and experiences. However, tattoos may not always be an accurate representation of someone’s personality.

Some key considerations on whether tattoos reflect personality include:

  • People change over time – the tattoos you get in your youth may not still reflect who you are decades later.
  • Tattoos reflect personality during the time period they were gotten – even if your personality changes, the tattoo remains.
  • Not all tattoos have personal meaning – some are gotten spontaneously without much thought or meaning behind them.
  • Visible tattoos only show a partial picture – they don’t reveal hidden tattoos or a complete view of someone’s body art.

So while tattoos can indicate personality traits and interests, they may not always provide an accurate or complete representation of someone’s personality.

Do tattoos affect your personality?

While the jury is still out, there are some theories and research on whether getting a tattoo can actually change your personality in any way. Some key perspectives include:

Tattoos may reinforce personality traits

The pain, permanence and visibility of tattoos signify commitment and self-expression. Going through the process of getting a tattoo reinforces these personality traits of commitment and expressing yourself. It’s a way for people to take control of their appearance and identity. This act of taking control and reinforcing a passion can strengthen personality traits like confidence, extroversion and openness to experience.

Tattoos encourage identity exploration

Since tattoos are seen as a form of self-expression, they encourage personal exploration of your identity. The process of selecting designs and their meaning causes self-reflection on who you are, what you value, and how you want to present yourself. This process can lead people to further explore their identity and shape their personality as they take on this self-expression.

Tattoos signify affiliation and community

From biker gangs to sports fans, tattoos have long signified being part of a community. Tattoos can reflect the values, personality traits and interests that define these communities. Being part of a community can reinforce certain personality traits and encourage conforming to social norms. Gang tattoos, for example, reinforce traits like toughness and loyalty. A tattoo that indicates group affiliation reflects and reinforces the key traits of that group.

The placebo effect

Some theorists suggest that simply getting a tattoo can change your personality and behavior due to the placebo effect. This means that if someone believes tattoos make them more confident or rebellious, they may subconsciously alter their behavior to align with those expectations. By believing tattoos have changed you, you essentially manifest that change in your personality and actions.

Therapeutic benefits

For some people, tattoos can provide therapeutic benefits and help them heal from trauma. Tattoos can cover scars, memorialize lost loved ones, or represent triumph over adversity. This can help build resilience and positively shape personality traits like optimism and emotional stability. The meaning behind therapeutic tattoos promotes growth and healing.

Overall, tattoos likely don’t drastically alter core personality. But they can shape personality expression and development in meaningful ways for some individuals. Tattoos allow self-expression and reinforce the personality traits and communities they represent.

Do certain tattoo designs reflect particular personalities?

While everyone is unique, certain styles of tattoos may be more popular among people with shared personality traits or interests. Here are some tendencies that research has uncovered:

Traditional or tribal tattoos

These bold black tattoos using motifs like anchors and skulls tend to be common among extroverted thrill-seekers open to danger and excitement. Their prominent visual style reflects these personality aspects.

Gothic or dark tattoos

People drawn to the Gothic style often score high in openness to experience and appreciation for aesthetics. Their tattoos reflect darker emotions, death symbolism and rejection of mainstream values.

Realistic tattoos

Hyper-realistic tattoos take great skill to execute. People drawn to them tend to be cooperative, Prize mastery and achievement. The tattoos allow them to showcase an artisan’s hard work and talent.

Whimsical or cute tattoos

These fun, playful tattoos are commonly associated with agreeableness and openness to experience. Their lighthearted style reflects imagination, optimism and warmth.

Quotes or text tattoos

These are often associated with introversion, introspection and reflect important beliefs. The permanence displays commitment to the words’ meaning.

However, exceptions abound – tattoo style is not necessarily predictive of personality. But certain designs may attract people with shared values, thinking styles and self-expression motives.

Are employers biased against tattoos?

Physical attributes like tattoos can unfortunately elicit biased judgments about personality and character. While attitudes are changing, research shows tattoos are still often viewed negatively in professional settings:

  • A 2016 study found 61% of recruiters viewed tattoos negatively
  • Participants rated tattooed women as less physically attractive, caring, and moral
  • Tattooed men were rated as less masculine, dominant, capable and approachable
  • Another study found visible tattoos lowered perceived leadership ability

However, smaller tattoos were viewed less negatively than large prominent ones. Location also mattered, with tattoos on the neck, face or hands being most taboo.

So while explicit discrimination is illegal, unconscious bias can still influence employers’ perceptions and decisions about candidates with visible tattoos.

Does tattoo frequency differ by personality type?

Research suggests certain personality traits are more common among tattooed individuals. However, these are broad tendencies that can’t predict outcomes for any one person.


Multiple studies link extraversion with greater Openness to getting tattoos. Extraverts’ outward focus and embrace of excitement make them more inclined to get tattoos.

Openness to experience

People high in openness, unconventionality and novelty-seeking also tend to be more open to body modification through tattoos. Their creativity and non-traditionalism aligns with expressing themselves through tattoos.


Some research has found a correlation between tattoos and impulsivity. The urge to get an impulsive tattoo reflects this trait. However, many tattoos are also carefully planned.

Tattoo frequency by gender

An estimated 23% of Americans have tattoos, with 31% of men versus 16% of women having at least one tattoo. However, the gender gap is narrowing in younger generations.

Tattoo frequency by age

Tattoo prevalence increases significantly in younger groups:
– Gen Z (18-25): 40% have a tattoo
– Millennials (26-40): 36%
– Gen X (41-55): 13%
– Baby Boomers (56-76): 5%

Younger generations show greater openness to tattoos for self-expression. But older groups becoming more accepting as well.

While certain personality types may be more or less inclined toward tattoos, they remain popular across demographics. The tattoo trend reflects shifting attitudes of self-expression and body art as self-identity.

Are tattooed individuals more rebellious?

Tattoos are often associated with rebel status, but does getting inked actually make people more rebellious? Research on this has been mixed:

  • Some studies have found tattooed individuals score higher on measures of rebelliousness.
  • People with antisocial tendencies like aggression and rule-breaking are also more likely to get tattoos.
  • However, other studies found no personality differences between tattooed and non-tattooed groups.
  • Getting a tattoo may signify rebellion symbolically more than actual behavioral differences.
  • Self-expression through tattoos is increasingly mainstream, suggesting tattoos don’t equate to rebellion like they once did.

Overall, the association between tattoos and rebellion appears more nuanced than a clear-cut link. While symbolic rebellion can motivate some tattoos, they don’t inherently make someone more non-conforming or defiant.

What motivations influence tattoo choices?

People get tattoos for diverse reasons that can shape the impact on personality. Common motivations include:

Memorial tattoos

Memorial tattoos commemorate lost loved ones. The permanence provides comfort and keeps memories alive.

Artistic expression

Tattoos allow creativity and self-expression through body art. The choice of unique designs reflects personality.

Cultural heritage

Tattoos connect wearers to their cultural roots and community. Traditional designs affirm identity.

Personal growth

Some memorialize important events, beliefs or values. This can represent personality growth.

Aesthetic enhancement

Many get tattoos simply because they enjoy the look. It’s a fashion choice more than self-expression.

Impulsive fun

Spontaneous tattoos by friends or while drinking are a cultural trope. But impulsive decisions can also have unintended consequences.

Overall, motivations are deeply personal. Tattoos gotten on a whim may differ from those with deep meaning. But both can shape personality in their own way.


Tattoos offer a medium for self-expression and reminders of meaning. They allow asserting your personality externally through body art. But does the ink actually change who you are internally? Tattoos alone likely don’t drastically alter your core personality.

However, the process of selecting designs and motifs causes self-reflection on identity. Tattoos signify affiliation to groups and causes. They reinforce traits like commitment and self-expression. Therapeutic and memorial tattoos aid healing and closure. So while tattoos may not fundamentally change personality, they shape expression and development in deeply personal ways.