You may think that tattooed men have the advantage at the bar, but perhaps not for the reasons you believe. A new study has delved deeper into what women really think about men with tattoos, and confirmed that yes, fresh ink does help to catch the eyes of ladies, but not because they find it to be more attractive. Rather, females appreciation for body art stems from their viewing tattoos as a sign of higher levels of testosterone — which might be good for a sex partner but doesn’t automatically translate into a better mate choice.

The study now published online in Personality and Individual Differences found that women didn’t rate men with tattoos as being more attractive, but they did rate them as having better health and also being more aggressive, dominant and masculine.

“Our results confirm that adding tattoos changes others' perception of men,” wrote the researchers. “They also demonstrate that tattoos not only influence female preference, but they may be even more important in male-male competition.”

Read: Women With Tattoos Perceived As Slightly More Sexually Active

For the study, scientists had 2,500 heterosexual men and women from Poland to look at shirtless men. Some of them were digitally modified so a small tattoo was present on their arms, The Independent reported.

The association between tattoos and “manliness” seems to be a mutual feeling among the sexes, as both men and women rated the tattooed men as being more aggressive, dominant, and masculine. However, being masculine doesn’t always translate as being a hit among potential dates, as The Independent reported that some women also reported tattooed men as being as worse prospects of potential partners and fathers. According to the researchers “the dark side of testosterone-related features” such as testosterone being associated with acts of violence, such as domestic abuse and even higher rates of infidelity in seemingly monogamous relationships, may explain these results.

Unfortunately, tattoos on women do not seem to have as much of a good effect. One study from 2015 found that the public tend to view women with visible tattoos as more open to sex without commitment, less selective, and having a higher sex drive when shown with the tattoo. However, the study found that although women with tattoos were seen as being more open to casual sex, they weren’t necessarily viewed as promiscuous, a traditionally negative characteristic.

Source: Galbarczyk A, Ziomkiewicz A. Tattooed men: Healthy bad boys and good-looking competitors. Personality and Individual Differences. 2016

See Also:

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Despite The Popularity Of Tattoos, People Still Judge Those With Body Ink