Finally, science has blessed us with an answer to the age-old question: “Will this tribal tattoo help me get laid?”
According to research published in Personality and Individual Differences, it very well may.
To reach this conclusion, researchers at Jagiellonian University Medical College in Poland gathered 2,369 female and 215 male study participants – all exclusively straight and an average of 25 years old – via social media.
Participants were shown photos of tattooed and non-tattooed men and were tasked with rating them using a five-point scale on domains of health, attractiveness, masculinity, dominance, aggression and potential to be a good partner or father.
The photos featured nine men between the age of 19 and 35, each posing identically with neutral facial expressions. The photos were then digitally altered so that the men sported a black tribal tattoo on one arm, so two versions of the same photo existed.
Participants rated each of the men once, with at least one inked and one non-inked photo in the randomly chosen set.
The women rated tattooed men as healthier-looking but no more or less attractive than non-tattooed men, and even rated them as potentially worse partners or fathers. Men, on the other hand, rated tattooed men as more attractive but not more or less healthy than bare-skinned dudes.
Both sexes, however, rated tattooed men as more masculine, dominant and aggressive – qualities associated with higher levels of testosterone that can both attract mates and intimidate rivals.
That said, tattoos more greatly impacted men’s ratings than women’s ratings. The researchers surmised that since the male participants were straight, their ratings were indicative of how they perceived the photographed men as rivals.
When it come to a perception of wellbeing, past research has shown that tattoos are interpreted by women as a sign of better health, as they can signify an enhanced immune system.
The researchers concluded that tattoos on men have two purposes: to attract potential mates by showing off their good health and masculinity, and to scare off rivals.
Of course, the type of tattoo you sport probably has at least some impact on all this. We’re not sure how well that poorly camouflaged tat of your ex's name will play with the ladies, for example.