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Riv Psichiatr. 2010 Mar-Apr;45(2):102-6.

[Tattoos and piercings in adolescents: family conflicts and temperament].

[Article in Italian]

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Dipartimento di Neuroscienze, Università di Padova.



The phenomenon of body art, such as tattoos and piercings, has ancient roots, rediscovered in Western society during the '70s. The aim of this research is to investigate the prevalence and the characteristics of tattoos and piercings among Italian adolescents of high school in Padua, with particular attention to family context and temperament.


Some questionnaires about the presence or the wish of tattoos/piercings, smoke and alcohol use, familiar conflicts, and some temperamental features, such as novelty seeking, harm avoidance and reward dependence, have been administered to a sample of 829 students.


Tattoo and piercing's prevalence among adolescents was respectively 4% and 24%; 2.5% of the sample had both. Respectively 62% and 35% of the subjects expressed the desire of having a tattoo or piercing. A significant association has been found between tattoo/piercing's presence and smoke and alcohol use (p < 0.001). Subjects with tattoos and piercings, are more likely to have familiar conflicts and minor perceived support and they have higher scores on the novelty seeking scale. Those who wish a tattoo/piercing showed higher reward dependence.


This study confirms that tattoos/piercings are common among young people and it stresses the relevance of familiar and temperamental features, and the association between tattoos/piercings and some maladaptive behaviors, like smoke and alcohol use.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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