The Effects of Consensual Pain: A Look at Psychological and Physiological Changes of Giving and Receiving Tattoos
Erickson, Jennifer M., 1984--
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Past research has observed that extreme rituals and BDSM activities have the ability to produce altered states of consciousness. Currently it is unknown what role inducing or receiving painful stimuli may have in eliciting these responses. 22 participants (5 tattoo artists, 11 clients, and 6 observers) were recruited at a local tattoo parlor. Tattoo artists were expected to enter into a state of flow (Csikszentmihalyi & Csikszentmihalyi, 1988) as measured by the SHORT Flow State Scale while any altered state of consciousness found in clients was expected to be accounted for by Dietrich’s (2003) transient hypofrontality hypothesis (measured with a Stroop task via tablet). No evidence was found that participants entered into a state of flow or transient hypofrontality. Participants did show a reduction in positive affect as well as a trending reduction in negative affect. Tattoo artists and clients reported feeling closer to each other; other groups (e.g. artists and observers) had no significant changes in closeness. Ego depletion, as measured by a handgrip task, may have occurred although the small sample size, as well as hand fatigue in the tattoo artists after the tattoo procedure, may better account for this finding.