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“My Body is My Journal, and My Tattoos are My Story”: South African Psychology Students’ Reflections on Tattoo Practices

Abstract

The aim of this research study was to gain insight into a group of South African psychology students’ perceptions regarding tattoos. In particular, the prevalence of getting a tattoo; differences between various gender, racial, and religious groupings with regard to getting a tattoo; the most prominent reasons for getting or not getting a tattoo; and general perceptions regarding tattoos and people with tattoos were explored. Third-year psychology students participated in this multi-methods study. A survey regarding tattoo behavior and perceptions was completed by 175 participants, and interviews were conducted with five individuals. Descriptive statistics, chi-square analyses, as well as content and thematic analyses, were completed. While most participants (78.3%) did not have tattoos, they were relatively non-judgmental with regard to tattoo practices. Tattoos were valued for their symbolic personal meaning and as a form of self-expression, while religion, the permanence of tattoos and medical aspects deterred students from getting a tattoo.

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Correspondence to Luzelle Naudé.

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All procedures performed in this study (involving human participants) were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Naudé, L., Jordaan, J. & Bergh, L. “My Body is My Journal, and My Tattoos are My Story”: South African Psychology Students’ Reflections on Tattoo Practices. Curr Psychol 38, 177–186 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-017-9603-y

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Keywords

  • Students’ perceptions regarding tattoos
  • Prominent reasons for getting a tattoo
  • Third-year psychology students
  • Symbolic personal meaning
  • Self-expression