According to Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. of San Diego Magazine, people most commonly decide to get tattoos to represent loved ones, religious beliefs or patriotism. Tattoos can also be a mode of self expression or the result of peer pressure.
Mantell states that tattoos can help people identify with a certain group, and it is this social acceptance that drives many to the decision. People who are in or used to be in the U.S. military often get tattoos that express patriotism. Religious people may get tattoos of their religious symbols, such as a cross. People may also get tattoos to fit in with a smaller social group; if every one of a young person's friends gets a tattoo, that person may decide to get one purely to fit in with the group. This individual's friends may also actively pressure the individual into getting a tattoo.
People also decide to get tattoos out of passion. For example, individuals may get a tattoos to express love for a certain movie, book or television show. In this way, they use tattoos as a form of personal expression and a way to identify themselves with those who have similar interests. Another common reason people get tattoos is to memorialize loved ones who have passed away. It is a way to cope with the grief of losing someone, but it is also a way to connect with others who have experienced the same loss.
Mantell explains that some people get tattoos while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, leading to impulsive, often regrettable decisions. He urges people to think carefully before they receive a tattoo.