The article summarizing these findings, "Shirts or skins?: Tattoos as costly honest signals of fitness and affiliation among US intercollegiate athletes and other undergraduates," has been accepted by Evolutionary Psychological Science and is current in press. Several people worked on this project over the years, but the authors who ultimately pulled this together include Taylor Puckett (cleaned and set up data codebooks), Nick Roy (cleaned data, helped with analysis, and edited paper), and Mandy Guitar (developed the hypothesis we tested in Carmen et al. , and edited paper). We're grateful to work done along the way by Connor Fasel, Kat Beidler, and Kira Yancey, as well as the title idea by Rob Else.
We are allowed to provide an Author's Accepted Manuscript here for preview. Our findings were consistent with the Human Canvas Hypothesis (Carmen et al., 2012), an evolutionary hypothesis that suggests tattoos advertise fitness or affiliation:
- Among men, intercollegiate athletes were more likely to be tattooed, but among women, non-athletes were more likely
- Intercollegiate athletes were more likely to have college- or pro sports-related tattoos
- Tattooing is positively associated with BMI
- BMI is positive associated with tattoo-related complications
- This association was greater among non-intercollegiate athletes, suggesting a costly honest signaling effect.
To learn more, read our AAM here.