Tattoos are not a modern invention, we have been tattooing our bodies for thousands of years. In fact, the first examples of tattoos date back to Egyptian mummies from 2000 BC, although with the discovery of the Iceman this practice dates back almost about 5,200 years.
Joann Fletcher, a researcher in the department of archeology at the University of York, thinks that at that stage tattoos had a therapeutic role and functioned as a kind of amulet during particularly difficult stages of life. In fact, ancient tattoos used to reflect deities.
Tattoos have also been found on mummified remains of some of the ancient pre-Columbian cultures of Peru and Chile, as well as on mummies found in the Taklamakan desert in China about 1200 BC.
In modern Europe, however, tattoos spread when Captain Cook returned from the South Seas in 1769. Some of his sailors were so impressed with Polynesian tattoos that they got their own. Thus it became an emblem of bravery and maritime fearlessness and its use later spread to other social groups.
Today, tattoos are very common, especially among the new generations. In fact, it is estimated that in Spain one in three young people between 18 and 35 years old has at least one tattoo. This upward trend has aroused the interest of some researchers, who have investigated the psychological profile of people who get tattoos.
What do your tattoos reveal about you?
A study conducted at the University of Westminster recruited a group of people to see if there were personological differences between those who did not tattoo and those who did. They discovered three distinctive features in the psychological profile of people who get tattooed:
1. You are an outgoing person
Extroverts tend to be very involved in social activities and are more aware of new trends, so it is not surprising that they also show a greater preference for tattoos. These people communicate a lot through their image, so it is understandable that they want to update it and include details that are meaningful to them and become reference points in relationships with others.
2. You look for new experiences
Getting a tattoo, especially the first one, is a new experience. So it is not surprising that these psychologists discovered that tattooed people tend to be more open to experiences and actively seek them. They are more adventurous and uninhibited people who seek adventure and excitement. However, they are also people who find it difficult to maintain routines, establish habits and deal with boredom.
3. You need to feel that you are unique
The greater the need a person experiences to feel unique, the more different he or she wants to be from the others. The psychological profile of tattooed people indicates that these drawings on the body are a way of self-expression and construction of their identity. They are a way of communicating to the world their uniqueness and the values that are important to them. Tattoos help them to differentiate themselves with visible symbols.
Swami, V. et. Al. (2012) Personality differences between tattooed and non-tattooed individuals. Psychol Rep; 111(1): 97-106.
Lineberry, C. (2007) Tattoos. The Ancient and Mysterious History. In: Smithsonian Magazine.