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Cultural tattoos: meanings, descriptors, and attributions

Body piercing and tattoo/ta moko were initially seen to be practiced by sailors, criminals, specific cultural groups (e.g., Māori), or sub-cultural groups (e.g., bikers, gang members, adolescents). In recent times, these practices have become part of mainstream popular culture, and are enjoyed by a wide range of people. In this study, we set out to explore patterns of body modifying behaviour engaged in, or commented on, by a sample of university students. We invited undergraduate psychology students from two courses to complete an ‘online’ questionnaire. Students logged on to a web site, were presented with an information sheet, and invited to respond. In this paper, we present the reasons why people in this sample decided to obtain a tattoo and the meanings they ascribe to their modifications. We will also consider the observations that people make of those who have culturally inspired tattoos.
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Type of thesis
Nikora, L. & Te Awekotuku, N. (2003). Cultural tattoos: meanings, descriptors, and attributions. In Nikora, L.W., Levy, M., Masters, B., Waitoki, W., Te Awekotuku, N., and Etheredge, R.J.M. (Eds). The Proceedings of the National Māori Graduates of Psychology Symposium 2002: Making a difference. Proceedings of a symposium hosted by the Māori & Psychology Research Unit at the University of Waikato, Hamilton, 29-30 November 2002 (pp.129-132). Hamilton, New Zealand: Māori and Psychology Research Unit, University of Waikato.
Maori and Psychology Research Unit, University of Waikato