Why People get Tattoos – Psychology & Personality

Tattoos are more popular than ever, but what is the psychology and motivations behind the choice to get a tattoo? Is there a connection between getting a tattoo and certain personality types or traits?

Psychology of getting tattoos.

At one time there were many strong negative stereotypes associated with having a tattoo. However, these days they’re being seen as more and more socially exceptable. Without so many negative stereotypes, people with a desire to get one are more inclined to do so.

Perhaps people that get tattoos have similar personality traits and psychological motivations? This article will look into those questions and possible connections.

Why People Get Tattoos – Psychology & Personality


Extroverts, the talkative outgoing types like attention more than anyone, and tattoos can be good conversation starters. For those where this is true, their tattoos are likely to be in highly visible areas such as arms, especially forearms and lower legs, around the calf area.

Expression/Artistic Desire

Tattoos can be a great way to express artistic desire, especially if they were involved in the design of the tattoo. Expression and artistic desire is likely to be high up on the list of psychological motivators, perhaps above common motivators such as ego gratification and the need to have control over others. Artistic desire is linked to a personality trait called openness, this trait includes open to experiences, and a need for variety and flexibility in life, personal and work life. Those who are extroverts, high on the openness trait, are probably very adventurous and impulsive, often acting and thrill-seeking before thinking.


Having a tattoo could show a desire to be unique, with a great deal of importance and focus on attaining individuality. This focus on uniqueness would normally suggest that someone was against conforming, likely to do things very differently than others, disliking traditions and limits. People with a desire to be unique tend to be high on the trait openness, and low on agreeableness, or somewhat disagreeable. Disagreeable people can actually get a degree of pleasure from going against the crowd and doing things their own way.


The two reasons, artistic desire and uniqueness are likely to be the main reasons why an introvert would get a tattoo. As gaining attention is less likely to be a reason, an introverts tattoos are probably in areas that are not as visible to strangers, unless they have a very strong impulse to express their uniqueness.

Low on Conscientiousness

Tattoo lovers are also likely to be low on a personality trait called conscientiousness. This means these people are usually less disciplined, they have a more relaxed attitude to work and keeping to time scales. They can also be quite scruffy in their dress sense and overall presentation.

Other Reasons Why People Get Tattoos

  • Reminders/memory
  • Peer pressure
  • Cultural reasons
  • Addiction
  • Mistakes/drunken choices
  • Impulsive decisions

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