'Why Did You Put That There?’: Gender, Materialism and Tattoo Consumption

Joel Watson, University of Utah
ABSTRACT - Tattoos have traditionally been considered socially marginal and risky consumption choice in American/Western culture. However tattoos are now beginning to come into the mainstream of American life. They represent an interesting consumption behavior due to their permanent alteration of body parts and their relationship to personal expressions and identity. In particular prior research suggest important potential relationships between a consumer’s tattoo choices and their Sex, Gender identity, Materialism, Uniqueness, need for Belongingness, and sense of Self-Control. Literature also stresses an important distinction between the Public and Private meanings that are associated with tattoos and the actual location and type of tattoo.
[ to cite ]:
Joel Watson (1998) ,"'Why Did You Put That There?’: Gender, Materialism and Tattoo Consumption", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 25, eds. Joseph W. Alba & J. Wesley Hutchinson, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 453-460.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 25, 1998      Pages 453-460

'WHY DID YOU PUT THAT THERE?’: GENDER, MATERIALISM AND TATTOO CONSUMPTION

Joel Watson, University of Utah

ABSTRACT -

Tattoos have traditionally been considered socially marginal and risky consumption choice in American/Western culture. However tattoos are now beginning to come into the mainstream of American life. They represent an interesting consumption behavior due to their permanent alteration of body parts and their relationship to personal expressions and identity. In particular prior research suggest important potential relationships between a consumer’s tattoo choices and their Sex, Gender identity, Materialism, Uniqueness, need for Belongingness, and sense of Self-Control. Literature also stresses an important distinction between the Public and Private meanings that are associated with tattoos and the actual location and type of tattoo.

Survey data were collected from a convenience sample of 68 persons having at least one tattoo. The sample was primarily from Salt Lake City; however, a subset of respondents were from all over the U.S. due to distribution of the survey through the internet and mail. Respondents provided scales of the above concepts as well as open ended descriptions of their first tattoo, its location, and reasons for getting the tattoo.

Five discriminant analyses were conducted to examine the relationships between respondent Sex, Gener identity, Materialism, Belongingness, and Self Control and actual location, these and actual symbol type; between Public/Private Meanings and actual symbol locations and actual symbol type; and between perceptions of location with actual symbol. Key findings included a positive relationship between Femininity and Vow and Personal tattoos; a positive relationship between males and Group tattoos, Materialism and Public display and perception of meanings of their tattoos. The findings would also support the notion that Femininity rather than Masculinity played the more important role in perception of tattoos. Another key finding was that people who had tattoos they perceived to be Art did not associate Personal, Vow, Public or Private meanings with their tattoos.

INTRODUCTION

Historically, tattooing has been considered a socially marginal and risky behavior in western culture (Sanders 1985). However, in the past five years it seems to have become more socially accepted as evidenced by the appearance of tattoos as the main focus in advertising campaigns, on college and pro athletes, actors, rock musicians and other highly visible people. Tattoos have become part of mainstream culture, and important symbols of various subcultures (e.g., Schouten and McAlexander 1995) .

Some consumer behavior research has centered on the symbolic consumption of products (Belk 1988; Hirschman and Holbrook 1982; Holt 1995; Solomon 1983). The permanent alteration of the body is an extreme consumption choice motivated by issues such as aesthetic beauty, affiliation, alienation , and construction, reconstruction and definition (or presentation) of self to oneself and the outside world (Csikszentmihalyi and Rochberg-Halton 1981; Langman 1991; Schouten 1991). One form of symbolic consumption and permanent body alteration is tattooing.

In choosing to become tattooed, consumers make at least two important decisions, they must select a symbol and determine where it will be placed on their body. The relationship between symbol selection, body placement and reason for being tattooed have been studied in a limited way. For example the relationships between these issues and certain demographic constructs have been studied qualitatively (Sanders 1988). The purpose of this study is to relate tattoo location and symbol choice, to gender, materialism and public/private meanings of these symbols. In addition it may help to clearly delineate the relationships between other demographic variables such as age and other constructs such as development of self concept, belongingness, uniqueness, vanity (Netemeyer, Burton, and Lichtenstein 1995) , self-gift behavior (Mick and DeMoss 1990) and shared consumption rituals (Gainer 1995). Overall, this study provides further insight into the development of self-concept through permanent body alteration.

PREVIOUS RESEARCH

Tattooing

Research on tattoo consumption identifies two distinct forms of body alteration: non-permanent "decorative forms" (Sanders 1988) such as clothes and cosmetics; and permanent forms including tattooing, scarification and plastic surgery. Non-permanent "decorative forms" are associated with specific social situations and evolving stages in self development. Permanent "decorative forms" are associated with enduring constructs such as gender, life long group affiliations (clan, tribal) and cultural notions of beauty such as blocked feet, or nose alterations (Sanders 1988; Schouten 1991) .

Tattooing is set apart from most consumption behaviors because it involves a permanent and voluntary choice to alter the body. Historically, in American/Western society, tattooing has been labeled deviant bhavior that indicates the tattooee’s voluntary alienation from mainstream society (Jones 1984). The voluntary nature of the act serves to make it all the more stigmatizing (Jones 1984). While tattooing serves to alienate the tattooee from mainstream society, it also has an affiliative effect with other select groups or subcultures (Fox 1987). The primary sub group includes fellow tattooee’s who share the same experience and distorted relationship to mainstream society. Other affiliative effects cited in the literature include, "one’s indelible connection to primary associates" (name tattoos) or groups whose members share specialized interest and activities (see Schouten and McAlexander, 1995 for discussion of motorcycle gangs and Sanders, 1988 for discussion of youth gangs). A sense of affiliation comes up many times in the literature, there seems to be a sense of belongingness associated with tattoos. This study will look at a persons need for belonginess, and how that relates to tattoo location and symbol.

Reason for Getting Tattooed

A key to understanding why we consume and what we consume is the notion that "knowingly or unknowingly, intentionally or unintentionally, we regard our possessions as parts of ourselves" (Belk 1988). It has been argued that objects become a part of the self when we are able to exercise control over or possess the object (McCelland 1951). Belk found that humans feel the most control and sense of possessiveness over their bodies and body parts (Belk 1988). Body alteration thus becomes a powerful symbol in helping to define or redefine the self. Schouten (1991) found that in times of life transition the self concept may become blurred and new sets of role identities may be adopted that put a person in flux. Body alteration is then a catalyst to bring the body and self-concept into line with the new ideals . Tattooee’s consistently view the tattoo as an expression of self and a way to transmit information about their uniqueness to others (Sanders 1988). This study will look at self control and uniqueness and there relationship to tattoo location and symbol.

Sanders (1988) found that respondents articulated their reasons for getting tattoos in general rather than specific terms. Four main reasons emerged: (1) the tattoo connected the tattooee to significant others who also had similar tattoos (2) having the tattoo made the tattooee unique by differentiating him/her from those who were part of the un-tattooed mainstream, (3) the tattoo symbolized self-control of the tattooee’s life and (4) the tattoo had aesthetic value as art or decoration of the body (Sanders 1988).

What Symbol

Sanders (1988) found that his respondents were more specific when discussing the reason they picked a specific symbol. Three main types of symbols emerged: (1) "Vow" tattoos-those symbols signifying close emotional ties and or love and commitment (including the name or symbol associated with a significant other), (2) Group affiliation tattoos-military branch tattoos, gang tattoos and athletic tattoos and (3) Symbols such as birth signs, symbols signifying interests, hobbies or occupational activities which symbolize the self concept.

Location

Sanders (1988) found that tattoo location is very gender specific and is a function of the differing symbolic meanings tattoos have for men and women. Males tend to have tattoos on arms, while women chose to locate their tattoos on breasts, hips, lower abdomen or back. Males think of the tattoo as primarily a symbol of self concept or self control, functioning as a window into the self for both the themselves and others. It acts as a public display of masculinity. Females think of tattoos as decorative symbols primarily for personal enjoyment or the enjoyment of significant others. Females may not think of the location in terms of gender, but tend toward private display. Research indicates that tattoos are more stigmatizing for women, so the choice to put the tattoo on a private area allows women to maintain "unsullied identities", when in contact with strangers or casualacquaintances (Goffman 1963).

Previous literature points to significant gender differences with respect to tattoo location and selection of tattoo symbol (Sanders 1988). It uses a simple demographic dichotomy of Male and Female as the measure for gender. However, it is possible that a dichotomous notion of gender may not be as useful as a measure of gender identity. Gender identity may be a continuum from femininity through androgyny to masculinity and may not necessarily depend on biological gender (Bem, 1981). Sanders (1988) showed the importance of considering gender when investigating tattoos, he used the weaker dichotomous definition of gender, so this study provides a foundation to look at the differing views of gender with respect to Materialism, Belonginess, Self Control, Uniqueness and their influence on tattoo location and symbol.

Materialism and Public/Private Meanings

Although the tattoo literature does not directly mention the influence of Materialism there seems to be a connection between it and tattoo location and symbol choice. Similarly, the literature does deal with public and private locations but fails to investigate meanings. Richins (1994b) tested four hypotheses that are potentially germane to tattoo location and symbol choice with respect to materialism and public and private meanings. She found that a person high in materialism is more likely to publicly consume objects, and is less likely to associate possessions with significant others. For persons high in materialism, private meaning is less likely to deal with interpersonal ties and is more likely to relate to financial worth. Finally, for persons high in materialism public meanings are likely to deal with success and prestige.

Richins (1994b) ,talks about Materialism and Public/Private meanings in general, but these concepts may be extended to tattoos. For the purposes of this study, the public meanings of objects are those that are intended for public consumption meaning the tattoo is readily visible. This notion is congruent with a tattoo symbolizing attachment to a subculture such as a military academy or a motor cycle gang. In contrast, Private meanings of objects are those intended for an individual or significant other such as those that might be indicative of a vow and represented by a meaningful name or shard symbol.

The relationship between level of Materialism and Public/Private meanings of objects for respondents may impact the choice of location and tattoo symbol. The materialism literature shows objects can have Public/Private meanings and the tattoo literature shows the importance of Public/Private locations. Therefore, the public/private dichotomy is important for both location and meaning. In addition the symbol may be classified as a type of tattoo (such as a vow or art) but mean something else to the tattoo consumer. For example one respondent in this study has a tattoo which is a representation of Edvard Munch’s "The Scream", and although this would be classified as an art tattoo, he/she indicated it represented commitment to a significant other who also had the same tattoo. It is thus necessary to access all four of these meanings of Public and Private, (1) personal interpretations of public/private meanings, (2) personal interpretations of symbol type and (2) objective or actual public/private location and (4) objective or actual symbol type.

HYPOTHESES

The overall purpose of this research is to determine the relationship between tattoo location and tattoo types with sex , gender identity, materialism, belongingness, self control, uniqueness and demographics. The basic hypothesis is that variations in the above constructs will impact the reason a person gets a tattoo, what symbol is chosen and what location is picked for the tattoo.

SpecificHypotheses:

H1: Those who are Materialist will have publicly displayed group affiliative tattoos such as fraternity symbols, athletic tattoos and military tattoos.

H2: Those who are not Materialist will privately display symbols emblematic of close personal ties or related directly to the self.

H3: Females are more likely than males to have Vow and Personal tattoos that have Private meanings. Conversely males are more likely to have Group affiliative tattoos that have Public meanings.

H4: Males and those who show male identity will show a need for Belongingness and will have affiliative Tattoos. While females and those who show Female identity will not show a need for Belongingness and will not have affiliative tattoos.

H5: There is a relationship between Female identity, Uniqueness and Art and Personal tattoos in Private locations

H6: Those with tattoos will exhibit high Self Control.

METHOD

Data Collection

Survey data were collected from a convenience sample of 68 persons having at least one tattoo. The sample was primarily from Salt lake City; however, a subset of respondents were from all over the country due to distribution of the survey through the internet, the mail and contacts in New York City, Seattle, Washington; and Portland, Maine. All respondents completed the same self-administered questionnaire.

Measurement

For the purposes of this study the respondents who had more than one tattoo were asked to consider only their first. The decision process involved in getting the first tattoo is often more involved, and is not impacted by the simple attraction of getting another tattoo (however, there is potential research exploring reasons for subsequent tattoos). Tattoo location was ascertained by asking the respondents to place a mark corresponding to the location of their first tattoo on a drawing of a person contained in the survey (the drawing contained views from the right side, left side, front and back). The researcher classified the tattoo locations as: Public, Semi-Public, Semi-Private or Private based on how visible the tattoo would be while wearing normal clothing.

Tattoo symbol and the specific reason for getting the tattoo was measured using responses to two open-ended questions. The responses determined which of four categories of tattoos each respondent fell into:, vow, personal, group or art (Sanders, 1988).

Materialism was measured using combinations of two existing materialism scales. For the purposes of this study, four sub-categories of materialism were measured; success, happiness, centrality (Richins and Dawson 1992) and possessiveness (Belk 1984) . Materialism was measured by level of agreement with six Success, seven Centrality, five Happiness and nine Possessiveness items on six point likert scales. Uniqueness, Belongingness and Self Control constructs were measured by six point likert scales, with ten, nine and five items respectively. Appendix A and B contain the Items used for analysis (after factor analysis).

Six point likert scales were also used to measure the respondent’s perceptions of their tattoos. Respondents were asked to rate their level of agreement with items concerning their first tattoo (appendix H) with respect to the location (ublic, Private) , and the type of tattoo (Vow, Personal, Group and Art).

A modified version of the Bem Sex Identity Scale assessed and used by Balnchard-Fields, Suhrer-Roussell and Hertzog was used in the study to determine the gender identity of each respondent (Ballard-Reisch and Elton 1992; Blanchard-Fields, Suhrer-Roussel, and Hertzog 1994; Spence and Helmreich 1981) . In the modified scale there are thirteen male adjectives, nine female adjectives and 17 neutral adjectives. Seven point likert scales were used to measure self perception of gender identity. In addition, demographic information on gender, marital status, age, education, number of people in household, occupation and family income were measured.

Data Analysis

Discriminant analysis was used to measure the relationship between the independent variables and location and type of tattoo. Canonical correlation was used to measure the relation between the two sets of independent variables

Scale Development

Each of the scales used was subjected to factor analysis and coefficient alpha reliability analysis. Appendix A and Appendix B show the results of the factor and reliability analysis on the items relating to Materialism, Uniqueness, Belongingness, Self-Control, Group Tattoo, Personal Tattoo and Private Location.

A detailed explanation of the factor and reliability analysis appears in Appendix C. In summary: Materialism-Success yielded an alpha=.7935; Materialism-Centrality yielded an alpha=.7126; Materialism-Happiness yielded an alpha=.6504. Perceptions of Group tattoos had an alpha=.9481; perceptions of personal tattoos had an alpha=.8246 and Uniqueness had an alpha=.7232.

RESULTS

Effect of Materialism and Gender identity on Tattoo location.

Table 1 shows the results of the Discriminant analysis used to test the hypothesized relationship between Gender Identity (Masculine, Feminine and Androgynous), Materialism (Centrality, Happiness, Possessiveness and Success), Uniqueness, Self control, Belongingness and Sex on tattoo symbol. The Discriminant analysis involving the ten independent variables and the dependent variable, tattoo location, produced one significant root . Four of the ten constructs had standardized loadings of at least .30 in absolute value. In decreasing order of importance they were Sex (gender), the inverse of Materialism-Success, Femininity (gender identity) and the inverse of Materialism-Happiness. The canonical variate is defined by females and those exhibiting strong female identity traits who are not Materialistic. The centroids for location are lowest for Public location, toward the Materialistic/Masculine side of the variate, followed be Semi-Public, Semi-Private, and private moving toward the Feminine/non-Materialism side. This pattern would indicate that more public locations are associated with greater Materialism and male identification.

Effect of Materialism and Gender Identity on Tattoo Symbol.

Table 2 shows the results of the Discriminant analysis used to test the relationship between Sex, Gender Identity, Materialism, Uniqueness, Self Control and Belongingness on tattoo symbol. The discriminate analysis involving the ten independent variables and the dependent variable tattoo Symbol produced one significant root . Five of the ten constructs had standardized loadings of at least .30 in absolute value. In decreasing order of importance from standardized beta’s: the inverse of Materialism-Success, the inverse of Belongingness, Femininity (gender identity), Sex (gender) and the inverse of Materialsm-Centrality. The canonical variate is defined by males and those with male identity tend to be materialistic and have a higher need for Belongingness. The centroids for location indicate that females and those with female identity traits are associated with Personal, Vow and Art tattoos while males and those with Male Identity high on Materialism and need for Belongingness tend toward Group affiliation tattoos.

Three additional Discriminant analysis were conducted to examine the relationship between perceptions of meaning of tattoo symbol and location with actual tattoo location, perception of meaning of tattoo symbol and location with actual symbol type, and perception of tattoo location with actual symbol type.

The first Discriminant analysis [The Discriminant analysis yielded one significant root. Four of the six constructs exceeded .30 on the canonical variate: Group, Public, Private and Art, in descending order of influence.] looked at the relationship between the independent variables perception of symbol type and perception of public or private location with the dependent variable of symbol location. The variate can be described as people who perceive strong Group and Public meaning for their tattoos, as opposed to those who perceive Private Artistic meanings of their tattoos. The location of the centroids indicate that greater public locations are associated with Group and Public meanings.

APPENDIX A

The second Discriminant analysis [The Discriminant analysis involving the six independent variables and the dependent variable tattoo symbol produced three significant roots. Two of the six constructs had loaded on root one with values of at least .30 in absolute value. In decreasing order of importance: perception of vow meaning and private location. Two of the sic constructs loaded on root tow; in decreasing order of importance, perceptions of Group meanings and perceptions of Public Locations. Four of the six constructs loaded on root tree. In decreasing order of importance: Personal perceptions of meaning, Group perceptions, Public location, and Private location.] looked at the relationship between perception of tattoo symbol and perception of public or private location with actual tattoo symbol. This analysis indicated three variates. The first canonical variate indicates that people who describe their tattoos as emblematic of a Vow to a significant others are likely to want to share them only with significant others by placing them in private locations. The second variate indicates that people with tattoos that are emblematic of Group associations will tend to place them in Public locations. In the third variate the centroid for Art tattoos was negative. This would indicate that people with art tattoos are not concerned with the Personal, Group, Public, or Private perceptions of their tattoos.

The third Discriminant analysis [The Discriminant analysis involving the two independent variables and the dependent variable tattoo symbol produced two significant roots. Root one was anchored by Private and Public perceptions. Both Public and Private meanings were positively loaded with root two.] looked at the relationship between perception of tattoo location with actual tattoo symbol and produced two variates. The canonical variate indicated that people with Group tattoos tend to perceive them as Public expressions while those with Vow tattoos tend to perceive them as Private expressions. The second variate indicates that people with Personal tattoos tend to have some Public and Private expressions, while people with Art tattoos do not consider their tattoos as Public or Private expressions.

APPENDIX B

APPENDIX C

TABLE 1

A COMPARISON OF TATTOO LOCATION AND TEN INDEPENDENT VARIABLES INCLUDING MATERIALISM, SEX AND GENDER IDENTITY

TABLE 2

A COMPARISON OF TATTOO SYMBOL AND TEN INDEPENDENT VARIABLES INCLUDING MATERIALISM, GENDER, BELONGINGNESS AND GENDER IDENTITY

DISCUSSION

The findings from the analysis with respect to Materialism and location of the tattoo indicate that those who are more Materialistic tend toward tattoos in public places on their bodies, thus supporting Hypothesis one. Males tended to be more Materialistic than females. This finding was true for both the demographic construct of Sex and for an individual’s score on Bem’s Gender identity scale for Femininity. Those who exhibited high Female Identity were very low in Materialism, and had tattoos in Semi-Private or Private locations. Female identity was the only significant factor in Bem’s scale, pointing to the fact that the Feminine Identity was stronger in the choice process with respect to location of a tattoo.

The results in table 1 showed that Materialism had a significant effect on tattoo location but only the Materialism constructs of Success and Happiness were significant. Both of these Materialism constructs were positively associated with Public locations of tattoos. The open ended questions indicated that group affiliative tattoos in the sample were largely fraternity and military tattoos, and in limited cases, gang tattoos. In most cases, association with these organizations was linked with being Successful, with feelings of Belongingness, Happiness and Pride. These findings may account for the signifiance of the Happiness and Success sub-constructs of Materialism in connection with tattoo location. A Sanders research indicated self control and personal enjoyment were important reasons for being tattooed (Sanders, 1988). Richins research revealed the materialist need for objects to make them happy, feel successful and the tendency to publicly consume these objects. This study supports these findings.

Hypothesis two was supported by the results in Table 1 and Table 2, showing that respondents low in Materialism had tattoos in Semi-Private or Private locations and had symbols that were emblematic of close personal ties (Vow) or related directly to the self.

In support of Hypothesis three and four, results indicated that males in the sample tended to show much higher Materialistic tendencies and a need for Belongingness and Group affiliation, and tended to have Group tattoos. Females, on the other hand, did not show a need for Belongingness and were not Materialistic, and tended toward Vow and Personal tattoos. Here again, female gender and female gender identification were in opposition to Materialism and Belongingness. Females tend to have more private reasons for their tattoo consumption such as symbolizing a relationship or a significant event, and prefer to share them only with significant others. Males tended to have their tattoo visible to more people and showed a tendency to have tattoos that represented affiliation with a group.

The study measured both tattoo location and symbol as well as location and symbol meanings. As would be expected the data shows that people who perceive strong Group and Public meanings differ from those who perceive Private Artistic meanings. The more Public the locations become the more the locations are associated with Group and Public meanings. Interestingly the perception of Art tattoo symbols are linked with Private meanings and actual Private locations. It would seem that Art tattoo symbols would be associated with public meanings, a symbolic display to the outside world, but in this case it would seem that art is for the owner to be consumed privately. It was found when looking at actual Art tattoos that they were not linked with Public or Private meanings.

Concerning the relationship between symbol and Public and Private meanings the data shows people with Group tattoos perceive their tattoos to be Public expressions, while those with Vow tattoos perceive their tattoos to be Private expressions. People with Personal tattoos associate both Public and Private expressions, while people with Art tattoos do not attribute either Public or Private expressions to their tattoos.

In support of Hypothesis 4 the results showed that males who are Materialistic and have a need for Belongingness associate very strong Group and Public meanings to their tattoos. Conversely, females and those with high Feminine gender identity who are not Materialistic and do not need Belongingness, associate Private meaning with their tattoos.

The findings did not show any significant relationship between demographics other than Sex and tattoo symbol and location. Sex was very significant in both cases. In this study, if a tattoo was in a Private location, then the person who had the tattoo was more likely to be a female. If the tattoo was in a Public location, the person who had the tattoo was more likely to be a male.

The findings did not show significance for the Uniqueness and Self Control constructs and consequently did not support hypotheses five and six. Both constructs had reasonably high alpha levels indicating good reliability, but in the confines of this study they did not have any effect on tattoo symbol or location. In fact, the results showed that those with art tattoos were not concerned with the issues of Personal, Group symbols or Public, Private meanings.

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

Thisresearch project looked at tattoos as a symbolic consumption choice. It has looked at the constructs of Materialism, Gender identity, Uniqueness, Self Control, Belongingness, demographics, perceptions of symbol meaning and perceptions of location meanings. In particular this project focuses on the relationship between these constructs and tattoo symbol choice and tattoo location.

A convenience sample was used and asked to respond to a self-completion survey. Data was analyzed using factor analysis, reliability analysis, Discriminant analysis and canonical correlation. Findings showed that four of the six hypothesis were verified.

Key findings included a positive relationship between Femininity and Vow and Personal tattoos; a positive relationship between males and Group tattoos, Materialism and Public display and perception of meanings of their tattoos. The finding would also support the notion that Femininity rather than Masculinity played the more important role in perceptions of tattoos. Another key finding was that people who had tattoos they perceived to be Art did not associate Personal, Vow, Public or Private meanings to their tattoos.

Society does not promote outward expression of close emotional relationships for males. Males tend to find these relationships and bond with each other through affiliation with athletic teams, fraternities, etc. Fischer and Gainer (1994) argue that participation in athletics teaches males to be male and is their primary means of socialization . They further add that sports is the main way males bond and gain respect. This study shows that for males, the group affiliative tattoo is a way for them to express a tie with other men. They display these symbols as a form of contact with the others in the group, making it an alternative to emotional acts such as hugging or touching . The tattoo allows them to be emotionally close with other males, while remaining in the socially constructed realm of "maleness" (tattoos have traditionally been associated with toughness, masculinity, power, etc.). As such, it is important to display the tattoo in a public way, thereby creating an outward display of the need for belonginess (through affiliation) which is cloaked in maleness. In a society that does not allow men to openly express their sentimental feelings the strong influence of female identification indicates that these affiliations are relationship-based, and the tattoo provides a safe way to express the relationships.

For females, the tattoo provides a concrete statement of concepts such as love, and self identity that can become ambiguous in today’s world. Symbols , actions and words have taken on a multiplicity of meanings and have become mixed and confused For example one can love a car, or love a spouse, one can be defined in ever changing ways. In this sense the tattoo explicitly states love and defines the self in a permanent way. For females, the vow and personal tattoo is a way to ground them, to allow them to make a concrete statement of love, or self to themselves and intimate others. Females are allowed to have close emotional relationships and as such do not find it necessary to display their belonginess to the world. Instead they privately display permanent symbols that provide a more intimate stabilizing force.

Areas for Further Research

Further research should try and equate significant life events with getting a tattoo and see how the independent variables used in this study would be different for those who got the tattoo because of a significant event. This notion is Inspired by research that indicates that a major motivation for obtaining a tattoo is a permanent life transition triggered either by external forces or some change within the tattooee. This motivation carries through research on other permanent forms of body alteration, most notably plastic surgery. At times of transition, there may exist a sense of incompleteness that motivates a person to create or re-create pats of the self-concept and in the process of self-creation one uses consumption to shape the self (Belk 1988; Csikszentmihalyi and Rochberg-Halton 1981; Schouten 1991). During the time of transition, persons will begin to construct or recognize alternative possible selves and there may be non-permanent changes in dress, etc. When an alternative new self is found or invented, then permanent alterations may occur to solidify this new or altered self (Markus and Narius 1986; Schouten 1991) . It is possible that getting a tattoo provides an "anchor" of self-identity (or relationship sentiment) , thereby stabilizing one crucial aspect of the self during transition. It would be interesting to investigate people who opt for tattoo removal/modification, to see possible reasons for this and to see if they are "pulling up the anchor" to allow for a totally new self concept. It is suspected that there will be a relationship between transition phases and people getting tattoos. A series of open-ended questions was included in the survey for this project that was not discussed within this paper that would support this relationship. Another avenue of research is the decision process for getting a second and third tattoo. How is the second tattoo perceived by the tattooee, is the decision matrix different, do the independent variables effect the second tattoo the way they effected the first. Perhaps the most interesting avenue would be to study tattooing as a changing product type from socially risky to socially acceptable.

Not only is tattooing permanent and used to bolster or alter the self concept but it is also a product that is making a transition from socially risky to socially acceptable. Understanding how the self concept is affected is an important notion and could be used in support of many products. Understanding how a product moves from socially risky to socially acceptable may have implications for other such products as well as potentially marketing a product as socially risky to begin with and moving it along the life cycle to socially accepted.

REFERENCES

Bem, Sandra Lipsitz. 1974. The Measurement of Psychological Androgyny. Journal of Consulting Clinical Psychology 42: 155-162.

Bem, Sandra Lipsitz. 1981. Gender Schema Theory: A Cognitive Account of Sex Typing. Psychological Review 88 (4): 354-364.

Ballard-Reisch, Deborah, and Mary Elton. 1992. Gender Orientation and Bem Sex Role Inventory: A Psychological Construct Revisited. Sex Roles 27 (5/6): 291-306.

Belk, Russell W. 1984. Three Scales to Measure Constructs Related to Materialism: Reliability, Validity, and Relationships to Measure Happiness. Paper read at Association for Consumer Research, at Provo, UT.

Belk, Russell W. 1988. Possessions and the Extended Self. Journal of Consumer Research 15 (September): 139-168.

Blanchard-Fields, Fredda, Lynda Suhrer-Roussel, and Christopher Hertzog. 1994. A Confirmatory Factor Analysis of Bem Sex Role Inventory: Old Questions, New Answers. Sex Roles 30 (5/6): 423-503.

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly, and Eugene Rochberg-Halton. 1981. The Meaning of Things: Domestic Symbols and the Self. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Fischer, Eileen and Brenda Gainer. 1994. Masculinity and the Consumption of Organized Sports. Gender Issues in Consumer Behavior (Janeen Costa (ed.)): 84-103. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

Fox, Kathryn Joan. 1987. Real Punks and Pretenders: The Social Organization of a Counterculture. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 16 (3, October): 344-370.

Gainer, Brenda. 1995. Ritual and Relationships: Iterpersonal Influences on Shared Consumption. Journal of Business Research 32: 253-260.

Goffman, E. 1963. Behavior in Public Places. New York: Free Press.

Hirschman, Elizabeth C., and Morris B. Holbrook. 1982. Hedonic Consumption: Emerging Concepts, Methods and Propositions. Journal of Marketing 46 (Summer): 92-101.

Holt, Douglas. 1995. How Consumers Consume: A Typology of Consumption Practices. Journal of Consumer Research 22 (June 1995): 1-16.

Jones, E. et al. 1984. Social Stigma: The Psychology of Marked Relationships. New York: Freeman.

Langman, Lauren. 1991. Alienation and Everyday Life: Goffman Meets Marx at the Shopping Mall. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy 11 (6/7/8): 107-124.

Markus, Hazel, and Paula Narius. 1986. Possible Selves. American Psychologist 41 (9): 954-969.

McCelland, David. 1951. Personality. New York: Holt, Rinehart, &Winstons.

Mick, David Glen, and Michelle DeMoss. 1990. Self-Gifts: Phenomenological insights form Four Contexts. Journal of Consumer Research 17 (December).

Netemeyer, Richard G., Scot Burton, and Donald R. Lichtenstein. 1995. Trait Aspects of Vanity: Measurement and Relevance to Consumer Behavior. Journal of Consumer Research 21 (March): 612-626.

Richins, Marsha L. 1994a. Special Possessions and the Expression of Material Values. Journal of Consumer Research 21 (December): 522-533.

Richins, Marsha L. 1994b. Valuing Things: The Public and Private Meanings of Possessions. Journal of Consumer Research 21 (December): 504-521.

Richins, Marsha L., and Scott Dawson. 1992. A Consumer Values Orientation for Materialism and it’s Measurement: Scale Development and Validation. Journal of Consumer Research 19 (December): 303-316.

Sanders, Clinton R. 1985. Tattoo Consumption: Risk and Regret in the Purchase of a Socially Marginal Service. Advances in Consumer Research 12 (E. Hirschman and M. Holbrook (eds.)): 17-22.

Sanders, Clinton R. 1988. Marks of Mischief: Becoming and Being Tattooed. Journal Contemporary Ethnography 16 (4, January): 395-431.

Schouten, John W. 1991. Selves in Transition: Symbolic Consumption in Personal Rites of Passage and Identity Reconstruction. Journal of Consumer Research 17 (March): 412-425.

Schouten, John W., and James H. McAlexander. 1995. Subcultures of Consumption: An Ethnography of the New Bikers. Journal of Consumer Research 22 (June).

Solomon, Michael R. 1983. The Role of Products as Social Stimuli: A Symbolic Interactionism Perspective. Journal of Consumer Research 10 (December): 319-329.

Spence, Janet T., and Robert L. Helmreich. 1981. Androgyny Versus Gender Schema: A Comment on Bem’s Gender Schema Theory. Psychological Review 88 (4): 365-368.

----------------------------------------