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Ornament and symbol. An exploratory study on the functions of tattooing and its connections with psychological disorders in college students

  • Abstract

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Keywords: Gender Differences; Individual Differences; Personal Identity; Psychological Disorders; Tattooing.

The extant literature regarding the links between psychopathology and body tattooing is highly inconsistent. The discrepancies may be attributable to heterogeneity within the population of people with tattoos. There were two objectives of the present study: 1) to identify a typology that would characterize the population of people with tattoos; and 2) to examine associations between being tattooed and indicators of risk for psychological disorder. Participants: n=410 (mean age= 22. 4 years), 165 with tattoos and 245 without tattoos. Instruments: a questionnaire regarding the characteristics and functioning of tattooing prepared for this study; Adult Self-Report of psychological disorder (Achenbach & Rescorla, 2001). Results: "Cluster" analysis performed on the data obtained from female participants with tattoos indicated a two-factor structure, with factors representing Symbolism and Ornamentation. In contrast, the data obtained from male participants with tattoos corresponded to a one-factor structure. There were no significant differences between male participants with and without tattoos in terms of indicators of psychopathology. In females, while participants with Ornamental Tattoos showed higher scores for Aggressive Behavior than those without tattoos, participants with Symbolic Tattoos and those without tattoos were not different each other in terms of indicators of psychopatology.

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