I’ve posted before about the connection between tattoos and deviant behavior (one tattoo is more like having none whereas having many has a correlation with involvement in drugs and crime.)
As for highly visible tatts:
Despite historical associations with deviance and marginality, tattooing is practiced by a diverse population in the United States today, leading some to argue that it has grown beyond its negative associations. Drawing on a nationally representative data set (n = 500) comprised of both tattooed and non-tattooed respondents, this analysis examines the social characteristics of those who are tattooed and the associations of tattooing with deviant behavior. Findings indicate that while tattooing has developed a broad demographic appeal, there remain some strong associations with deviance, particularly criminality. Specifically, highly visible placement of tattoos appears to be most strongly associated with deviant behaviors.
Source: “Marked Difference: Tattooing and its Association with Deviance in the United States” from Deviant Behavior, Volume 30, Issue 3 April 2009 , pages 266 – 292
And as for who gets them:
This study uses prospective longitudinal data to examine who acquired a first tattoo among a national sample of adolescents (n = 13,101). Results indicate that social bonds, prior deviant involvement, self-protection, and negative self-appraisal all were predictive of tattoo acquisition. Results also show nontrivial differences in the likelihood of tattoo acquisition for different subgroups of adolescents, ranging from 1 in 5 for adolescents who scored high on several risk factors at once to 1 in 160 for those who scored low. Implications for future research on tattoo acquisition among adolescents are discussed.
Source: “Tattoo Acquisition: A Prospective Longitudinal Study of Adolescents” from Deviant Behavior, Volume 30, Issue 6 August 2009 , pages 511 – 538
And while we may think of guys with tattoos as tough and badass, I learned in this book that one of the most consistent findings among Navy Seal instructors is that guys with tattoos tend not to make the grade.
And even more interesting: tattoos are associated with good genetics.
Is there a connection between body art and deviant behavior?