NEW YORK, April 8, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- "Wear your heart on your skin in this life," wrote Sylvia Plath. Her words are commonly interpreted as a call to live honestly and openly, but they could also be – and often are – co-opted as a rallying cry for those who choose to adorn their skin with tattoos and other forms of body art. A 2012 Harris Poll found that tattoos were making cultural inroads, edging away from the fringe and toward the mainstream, with the percentage of Americans saying they had at least one growing from 14% in 2008 to 21% in 2012. But where might one find the greatest concentration of human canvas among the ten largest U.S. cities? And how do those markets' inhabitants feel about tattoos and the people who have them?
According to the study, Americans in two California markets – Los Angeles (26%) and San Francisco (25%) – are more likely than those in any of America's other top ten markets to have at least one tattoo. However, by virtue of tattoos per person, Los Angeles pulls ahead as the "Most-Inked Market;" San Franciscans are twice as likely as their southerly neighbors to have just one tattoo (13% San Francisco vs. 6% Los Angeles), while Los Angelinos are three times as likely to indicate having five or more (9% Los Angeles vs. 3% San Francisco).
These are among the findings of a Harris Poll of 2,102 U.S. adults, ages 18 and older and living in the top 10 American markets by population (roughly 200 per market), surveyed online between March 11 and 17, 2014. The study utilized Major Market Query, an omnibus survey offering a sample of the 10 top major metropolitan areas of the United States. (Full results, including data tables, available here)
On the other end of the spectrum, residents of Atlanta, GA (15%) are less likely than those in any other major market to profess having at least one tattoo.
The world is divided into two kinds of people: those who have tattoos, and those who are afraid of people with tattoos.
- Author unknown
Though the 2012 Harris Poll showed that the perception of people with tattoos as more likely to do something most would consider deviant was waning, a plurality (24%) still ascribed to the belief at that time. Looking across these ten markets (with an aggregate 23% agreeing), Atlantans (29%) are more likely than those in any other market to feel that people with tattoos are more likely to do something most people would consider deviant. The city of brotherly love is the least likely to indicate the same, with two in ten Philadelphians (20%) believing people with tattoos are more likely to do so.
Show me a man with a tattoo and I'll show you a man with an interesting past.
- Jack London
When asked to compare people with tattoos to those without as to whether they fit more or less with a series of descriptions, those with tattoos are most identified as being more rebellious (49% across the 10 tested markets), with this perception standing out most in Houston (54%) and Los Angeles (53%) and least in Dallas/Fort Worth (43%) and San Francisco (44%).
Chicagoans are more likely than those in any other market to see those with tattoos as stronger (20%) than those without, while Los Angelinos are most likely to see them as more sexy (16%) and attractive (14%) than those without. Atlantans are the group least likely to see those with tattoos as better fitting with each of these three descriptors (9% each).
Overall, pluralities see people with tattoos as less attractive (35%), sexy (31%), intelligent (27%), healthy (23%) and spiritual (21%) than those without. Delving into the individual markets:
- Bostonians are most likely to see those with tattoos as less attractive (45%); New Yorkers are least likely to indicate the same (29%).
- Texans are most likely to see those with tattoos as less sexy (38% Houston, 36% Dallas/Fort Worth); New Yorkers are least likely to indicate the same (26%).
- On the other hand New Yorkers are most likely to see those with tattoos as less intelligent (31%); residents of Washington, D.C. (22%) and Dallas/Fort Worth (23%) are least likely to indicate the same (29%).
- Residents of Atlanta (31%) and Houston (30%) are most likely to see those with tattoos as less healthy; Philadelphians are least likely to indicate the same (18%).
- Atlantans are also most likely to see those with tattoos as less spiritual (31%); those in Washington, D.C. are least likely to believe this (17%).
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This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between March 11 and 17, 2014 among 2,102 adults (aged 18 and over) in the top 10 U.S. markets (214 in the NYC Metro area, NY; 211 in Los Angeles, CA; 211 in Chicago, IL; 210 in Philadelphia, PA; 210 in Dallas/Fort Worth, TX; 209 in San Francisco, CA; 210 in Boston, MA; 206 in Washington, D.C.; 211 in Atlanta, GA and 210 in Houston, TX). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Where appropriate, these data were also weighted to reflect the composition of the adult online population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.
All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.
Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.
These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.
The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.
The Harris Poll® #32, April 8, 2014
By Larry Shannon-Missal, Harris Poll Research Manager
About Nielsen & The Harris Poll
On February 3, 2014, Nielsen acquired Harris Interactive and The Harris Poll. Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NLSN) is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence and mobile measurement. Nielsen has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA and Diemen, the Netherlands. For more information, visit www.nielsen.com.
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