January 13, 2010

Ink on Skin Indicates Sin? (LOL)

Culture, News, Research 3 Comments

If you’re worried what your mom will say about your girlfriend’s tramp stamp, you can fear no more–research is on your side!

A new study by researchers at Texas Tech University who studied piercings and tats for the last decade suggests the relationship between body art and deviant behavior is significant only for those who have adorned their exteriors in extreme ways. The paper, just published in The Social Science Journal, reports that the relationship between body modification and deviant behavior is only significant for those who have gone to the extreme.

Researchers surveyed 1,753 students from four American colleges (two state schools and two highly selective religious institutions) and found 37 percent reported at least one piercing and 14 percent were tattooed.

Four percent reported having seven or more piercings, four or more tattoos, and/or at least one piercing in their nipples or genitals.

Aside from their tats and piercings, the students surveyed answered questions about drug and alcohol use, sexual activity and whether they cheat on tests.

The findings suggest there is a distinct difference in deviance between students with just one tattoo and those with four or more, and between those with just one to three piercings or seven or more.

“The level of deviance reported by respondents with low levels of body art is much closer to those with none than to those with multiple tattoos and piercings, or intimate piercings,” said sociologist Jerome Koch, the paper’s lead author. “Results indicate that respondents with four or more tattoos, seven or more body piercings, or piercings located in their nipples or genitals, were substantially and significantly more likely to report regular marijuana use, occasional use of other drugs, and a history of being arrested for a crime. Less pronounced, but still significant in many cases, was an increased propensity for those with higher incidence of body art to cheat on college work, binge drink and report having had multiple sex partners over the course of their lifetime.”

Tom Jacobs writes at Mullen-McCune:

The researchers suggest the traditional subculture of piercing and tattoos, traditionally associated with deviant behavior, has been “encroached upon from the outside” by the increasing acceptance of body art. So those who feel a part of this subculture “may need to modify or extend their behavior to maintain social distance.” Ergo, nipple piercings.

So, that butterfly on your sophomore’s ankle is not a sign she is hanging out with the wrong crowd. But if she comes home for spring break covered from head to toe, start worrying.

I guess that means my un-pierced, single-tattooed self a mainstream. Sweet.

Image by Doug Sparks. Information from Miller-McCune.

AV Flox

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  • http://www.hukilau.us Joseph Matheny

    Darn. Now us sinners gotta figure out another signaling system. ;-)

  • Anaiis

    Right? LOL.

  • http://twitter.com/RobertFischer Robert

    Apparently you just have to crank it up a notch. Or get a notch in your junk.

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