Nicolas Guéguen of the Université de Bretagne-Sud digs into why everyday things happen–why, for instance, men might do women favors. He just made news with a study that showed men are far more likely to lend a hand to a woman if she’s wearing high heels. (Do remember: Guéguen is in France. But biases like this have been reported in many cultures.)
In trying to uncover both how and why people do things, Guéguen often turns up interesting patterns or trends. More than 1 in 5 US adults now has at least one tattoo, so it’s natural Guéguen wanted to know how tattoos affect perception. Tattoos, when they were less common, were generally considered the mark of a rebel. That’s still true, but it’s fading as the numbers grow and dilute the perception. On women, tattoos have long signaled promiscuity to men (whether or not they should is another issue). Guéguen’s study finds that this is still true. But is it accurate? Guéguen’s survey of tattooed and pierced women in France found they did tend to have their “first sexual intercourse at relatively younger ages,” according to Psychology Today. But the study couldn’t determine whether the early start was due to an inclination among tattooed women to begin a sexual life–or the natural result of the far greater number of propositions women with tattoos receive. In Guéguen’s research, a woman with a tattoo was approached by men–all other things being equal–more than twice as often as one without.