NCBI ROFL: An evolutionary analysis of tattooed ladies.

By ncbi rofl | May 17, 2011 7:00 pm

Visual attention to plain and ornamented human bodies: an eye-tracking study.

“Signaling mate quality through visual adornments is a common phenomenon in animals and humans. However, humans are probably the only species who applies artificial ornaments. Such deliberate alterations of the skin, e.g., tattoos and scarring patterns, have been discussed by researchers as potential handicap signals, but there is still very little information about a potential biological signaling value of body modification. In this study eye-tracking was employed to investigate the signaling value of tattoos and other body modification. Measurement of gaze duration of 50 individuals while watching plain, scarred, accessorized, and tattooed bodies of artificial human images indicated that participants looked significantly longer at tattooed than at scarred, accessorized, and plain bodies. Generally, male participants paid more attention to tattooed stimuli of both sexes. More detailed analyses showed that particularly female tattooed stimuli were looked at longer. These findings are discussed within an evolutionary framework by suggesting that tattoos might have some signaling value which influences the perception of both male and female conspecifics and may hence also affect mating decisions.”

Related content:
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WTF is NCBI ROFL? Read our FAQ!

  • Fishing Bait

    Thanks a lot for showing your ideas. Being a writer, I am always in need of unique and different solutions to think about a topic. I actually find excellent enthusiasm in doing this. Thanks.

  • TheAuTrowel

    Actually, decorator crabs glue various accoutrements to their shells in order to camouflage themselves and/or attract mates. I still think dolphin tats are lame, though.

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  • Matt B.

    I don’t see how this relates to mate choice. I look at people’s tattoos and piercings because there’s something rather than nothing, but tattoos and weird piercings are a deal breaker for a potential girlfriend. (I’m also not sexually attracted to car crashes, despite staring at them.) Other people think tattoos are hot, so it seems irrelevent to do a study based only on how long people look at them.

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    I have been meaning to post about sth like this on one of my blogs and this gave me an idea. TY.


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About ncbi rofl

NCBI ROFL is the brainchild of two Molecular and Cell Biology graduate students at UC Berkeley and features real research articles from the PubMed database (which is housed by the National Center for Biotechnology information, aka NCBI) that they find amusing (ROFL is a commonly-used internet acronym for "rolling on the floor, laughing"). Follow us on twitter: @ncbirofl


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