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On the Beach, Men Are More Likely to Approach a Tattooed Woman

Men are more likely to approach a woman with a tattoo, and more likely to expect a date or sex with that woman

There are a lot of reasons to think twice before getting something permanently drawn on your body. One is that people still treat those with tattoos differently than those without. One recent study, for instance, looked at how men treat women with tattoos. What they found was that men are more likely to approach a woman with a tattoo and more likely to expect a date or sex with that woman.

Here’s how the study worked. Researchers had women place temporary tattoos on their lower backs and sent them to a well-known beach. The women were instructed to lay on the beach reading a book, staying on their stomachs so that the tattoo was visible. There were two parts to this study. In the first one, once the woman was in place, researchers watched and counted how many men approached her. In the second, once the woman assumed her position, a male researcher walked around the beach and asked random men whether they would be willing to “respond to three questions about a girl somewhere on the beach.” Every single man they approached said yes.

Here’s how the researchers summarized their results:

Two experiments were conducted. The first experiment showed that more men (N = 220) approached the tattooed confederates and that the mean latency of their approach was quicker. A second experiment showed that men (N = 440) estimated to have more chances to have a date and to have sex on the first date with tattooed confederates.

Interestingly, the study did refute an earlier finding about women with tattoos. In 2007, researchers from the University of Liverpool showed that men rated women with tattoos as physically less attractive, but sexually more promiscuous than those without. In this study, researchers found that physical attractiveness—as rated by the men on the beach who agreed to answer questions about the woman—wasn’t impacted by the tattoo. Another study in 2005 also found that tattoos don’t change attractiveness, but do negatively impact a person’s credibility, regardless of their gender.

So tattoos might not be bad for picking up dudes at the beach, but they might impact what those dudes think of you in the long run.

More from Smithsonian.com:

Can Tattoos Be Medicinal?
Tattoos

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About Rose Eveleth
Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider, TED-Ed and OnEarth.

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