It’s not just a stereotype: People with tattoos and body piercings are also more likely to drink alcohol and engage in other unhealthy high-risk behaviors than their unadorned peers, new research shows.
The study, published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, was conducted by French scientists from the Université de Bretagne-Sud who administered breathalyzer tests to nearly 3,000 people as they exited a bar on four successive Saturday nights. They found people with tattoos and body piercings had more alcohol per liter of exhaled breath than those who did not.
Researchers noted people with tattoos and body piercings – now very common in the U.S. and Europe – are also more likely than others to engage in such dangerous activities as fighting, theft and having unprotected sex.
"A host of previous studies have routinely shown that individuals with body piercings or tattoos are more likely to engage in risky behavior than non-pierced or non-tattooed people," said lead researcher Nicolas Guéguen, professor of social behavior at the Université de Bretagne-Sud.
"We found that pierced and/or tattooed individuals had consumed more alcohol in bars on a Saturday night than patrons in the same bars who were non-pierced and non-tattooed."
Guéguen said the findings suggest educators, parents and physicians consider tattoos and piercings potential "markers" of drinking, as well as other risky behaviors, and use them to begin a conversation about the dangers of alcohol and other unhealthy activities.