Question came up in a conversation where one associate indicated that they thought tattoos on women were "slutty" and others took offense. The argument was that: when have you ever met a woman with a tattoo who was a virgin? Brought up a host of questions:

  1. Is there any research on sexual activity and tattooing (ie. Is it true that a man/woman with a tattoo is more likely to be sexually active?).
  2. Is there any research on non-western norms for tattoos and other body modifications as related to sexual maturity?
  3. Is there any research on peoples' perceptions of others who have tattoos, as related to sexual activity.
  4. There was a study that showed negative first opinions of women with tattoos, does this stereotype also apply to males?
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    I find it interesting that they equated slut with not a virgin. So their logic is that no virgin girls with tattoos is proof that tattoos are slutty and thereby if you have sex even once you 're a slut....
    – jjj
    Mar 11, 2011 at 3:48
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    If I thought there was a positive relationship, I'd get a tattoo tomorrow!
    – Golden Cuy
    Mar 12, 2011 at 8:41
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    Can't say that question is unclear or unreasonable, but in some way I find it disparaging. It's much more about unfair perceptions than correlation and far from causation. It is difficult to prove that perception is unfair though, but categorising people into "risk groups" by appearance but not behaviour is unfair. We might find some correlation between right-handed and left-handed people and violence. But so what?
    – Egle
    Mar 16, 2011 at 11:26
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    @ egle. I guess the difference would be that dominant handedness is an inherent trait. Tattoos are a voluntary, elective display. I can kind of see his point, as another elective display is those shorts with "tasty" and "sassy" written on the butt. When I see those, I automatically make assessments about the wearer's promiscuity. It might not always be true, but I bet it's accurate to a statically significant degree.
    – Dogmafrog
    Mar 16, 2011 at 12:07
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    correlation is not causation, don't count on getting laid just because you'll get a tattoo :-P
    – vartec
    Jul 11, 2011 at 7:59

1 Answer 1


A quick google search turned up this 2005 PubMed abstract.

This research examined the association of having a tattoo and engaging in premarital sexual intercourse. Data gathered from a convenience sample of 450 college students indicated that tattooed respondents were substantively and significantly more likely to be sexually active than nontattooed college students. Tattooed men became sexually active at a significantly earlier age than nontattooed men but no such difference was found between tattooed and nontattooed college women

This is only a single study, but I found indications that other work corroborates the result. Here, for example, is another abstract linking body modifications such as tattoos and piercings to premarital sexual activity.

In general, it seems that many researchers believe that tattoos and piercings are associated with risky behaviors, especially in adolescents.

  • 3
    Any references for the association between risky behavior and adolescents. What is the cause/effect? Mar 11, 2011 at 1:37
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    @Ralph Winters link This is the search I performed. Of the ten links on the first page, six are clearly oriented towards adolescents, with another focused on "young women". I doubt there is a clear causal relationship between tattoos and other risky behaviors, but the OP was only asking for a relationship, which is both apparent and plausible.
    – anthony137
    Mar 11, 2011 at 1:54
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    Might be a good idea to mention the nonexistent relation to any causality in the answer. This site is quite available via google, and might not be viewed by just skeptics who understand that issue. We don't, of course, need to preface everything with such disclaimers, but this is a source for a major misunderstanding. Unfortunately, correlation and causality are widely confused by many people. Mar 11, 2011 at 9:11
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    @ralphwinters: I would hazard a guess that the causal element is low self esteem.
    – horatio
    Mar 11, 2011 at 20:09
  • Actually it does look like the OP was asking for causality (Q#1), but I'm not sure that Google Page 1 is the best place to ascertain relationships, meaning that it is still entirely subjective. Mar 11, 2011 at 22:09

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