Why do people get tattoos

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

Your belongings are extensions to your personality

Why would someone print a picture on his body for lifetime?
Why would a person be proud to display a picture of a flower or a lion to people?
Why would someone cover half of his body with a tattoo?

Tattoos, just like any other thing related to a person, is an extension to his personality. Everything that a person owns, admires or believes in reflect his personality and core beliefs. (see How the jokes a person likes reflect his beliefs)

A car, a dog, a cell phone and the clothes a person puts on all reflect the way a person sees himself and how he wants to be seen by others. (see also Your car and your personality)

Tattoos are no different than Facebook cover photos except that they reflect more permanent beliefs than a temporary mood. If a person felt sad for few days he might change his cover photo to reflect that mood but when the same person decides to get a tattoo it means he is referring to something that will be around for a longer period of time. (see also Why do people like and share certain things online)

Tattoo psychology explained

Why would someone own a 4x4 or a truck?

Because he wants to be powerful and so this truck reflects one of his needs? No that's a Wrong answer. The correct answer is: there might be tens of different reasons for owning a truck and the one mentioned is certainly one of them.

When people buy something or like it this means that this thing has helped them feel like themselves a bit more and that it also helped them tell people who they are. (see also The psychology of music)

And since every human being sees the world differently more than one person can own the same thing for different reasons. For example, If a person believes in zodiac signs and likes what is being said about his sign then he might put a scorpion on his shoulder assuming he was Scorpio. In such a case this person might be trying to tell the world something like: "See, i have all the good traits of Scorpios" (see also Why do some people believe in fortune telling)

The same exact tattoo could be used by a guy who wants people to think that he is dangerous. If he believes that Scorpions are considered scary for everyone then by putting it on his body he would be sending a message like "I am as dangerous as a scorpion" or "i don't fear scorpions, take care"

Why do people get tattoos?

  • 1) To reinforce an Identity: People use tattoos to stress on their main identity and to remind themselves of who they are. This identity can be "I am dangerous","I am special", "I am strong" or anything else that a person is proud of (see also How psychological identities affect behavior)
  • 2) To Reveal his identity to people: Contrary to common beliefs people who put Tattoos aren't always the ones who don't care about being judged because in many cases the Tattoo is used to send messages about their identity to other people. "I am not the kind of person you would want to mess with" is one possible message a person who has a tattoo could be trying to send to the world
  • 3) To remind themselves of an important value: Some people get tattoos that have symbols that have special meaning for them. A person who is persistent could get a tattoo of a sword if he believes that a sword symbolizes resistance. This is another reason why you might not understand the manning of a person's tattoo from the first look. Its because the tattoo can only be interpreted when you understand how the person who has it thinks of the symbol. (see also Understanding the unconscious symbols)

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