Current Psychology

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 177–186 | Cite as

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

  • Luzelle NaudéEmail author
  • Jacques Jordaan
  • Luna Bergh


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.


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


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

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.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of the Free StateBloemfonteinSouth Africa

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