Mixed-venue survey delineates furries, therians, otherkin
Results for the Summer 2011 International Furry Survey led by Dr. Gerbasi and Nuka were released last month, and some are quite surprising. The study attracted 1940 participants (179 'non-furry'). 45% came from Anthrocon 2011; the rest filled out the survey online.
This survey swept in members of several related groups, most of whom saw themselves as distinct from furries. 74.4% of participants identified solely as furry, while 8.8% claimed to be therians and 4.7% otherkin. 3.6% felt they belonged to both furry and one of these groups.
Significant differences were found between furries and therians, and male and female furs.
Becoming furry: influences, character traits and timeline
62.9% of non-furries believed furry was a choice, while only 48.9% of furries (and 39.3% of therians) thought the same. The survey found no one source acting as an influence, but therians and otherkin appeared to be more likely than furries to note a specific experience or internal feeling.
While some had suggested family breakup as a basis for joining the fandom, the survey found "no significant difference between furries [33.6%] and non-furries in terms of how frequently their parents were divorced."
Tests on the "Big Five" personality traits found that those more involved with furry fandom reported being more extroverted, less agreeable, and more open to experience. There was no statistical difference for conscientiousness or stability/neuroticism, nor – as found previously – were there "significant differences between furries, therians and non-furries as measured by self-esteem scales and depression scales."
While minors could not participate in the survey, approximately 70% of the sample was 25 or younger; despite this, 5-10% were 40–60+. Anthrocon participants "[had] considered themselves to be a furry for statistically longer than online participants (8.4 years versus 7.0 years)" and were older (25.8 vs. 24.0). Furs began to consider themselves furry around 17, and "became a part of the furry community 2 years later". They estimated there were "about 1.4–2.8 million furries worldwide" (1 in 2,500–5,000); those strongly identified as furries estimated higher.
Therians, furries and otherkin
Therians were slightly more likely than furries to be female (19.7% vs. 15.5%), and three times more likely to be transgender (3.3% vs. 1.0%). They were also statistically more likely to feel less than 100% human, both physically (18% vs. 8%) and mentally (72% vs. 34%), and were far more likely to want to be completely non-human (52% vs. 35%), or to believe that they are human plus something else (44% vs. 31%).
Therians were also more likely to emulate their species than furries, less likely to believe their fursona/species could change over time, or that it could be chosen, and far more likely to identify as a member of their species. The 'deepness' with which they felt their species was a part of them was likewise greater (8.55 vs. 6.75 on a 10-point scale). They were more likely to engage in magical/supernatural thinking, compared to furries or non-furries (between which there was no significant difference), and were more likely to use Second Life or IMVU than non-therian furries.
Curiously, therians felt closer to furries than non-furries (5 vs. 4 on a 7-point IOS scale), while furries did not make such a distinction (both ~4.5).
Both therians and otherkin were "about twice as likely" as furries (~37% vs. 22%) to report an internal source for association with the furry community, and "about half as likely" (15% vs. 32%) to report an outside influence (vs. both or neither). Therians also had "greater connections to their species than furries, especially when it came to spiritual connections and identification with their species." Lastly, therians were more likely than furries (31.1% vs. 22.6%) to think that furry was solely something you are, vs. solely something you do (2.5% vs. 10.1%).
Therians and otherkin were more likely to choose species which they considered predators. In addition, those who had chosen predator species were significantly more extroverted than those who had chosen prey.
Gender, sexuality and relationships in furry fandom
Researchers found a significant gap between furries' reported physical sex, and their gender identification:
[...] more than 80% of the furry sample reported being biologically male, only about 45% of the sample identified with the male gender. Additionally, while 15% of so or of the furry sample identified as biologically female, less than 10% [...] identified with the female gender.
In both cases, this referred to solely identifying with one gender; substantial divisions (31% and 12% respectively) were one step closer to "equal male/female". Female furs were more likely than male furs to have a fursona with a different gender (52% vs. 64% "always the same"), and were more likely to be heterosexual in real life. Overall, "there were about 1.5 times as many exclusively heterosexual furries as there were exclusively homosexual furries", and nearly half reported a non-exclusive sexual orientation.
Furries "tended to have fursonas that were slightly more homosexual than they were" (the average number of fursonas was 2.12). This spilled into the real world, with non-furries reporting "slightly more" attraction to, physical intimacy and love with the opposite sex than furries, while furries were "more physically intimate with and had been in love with more same sex partners than non-furries." As for relationships:
[...] male furries are more than twice as likely as female furries [56% vs. 22%] to be single, and female furries are three times more likely [13% vs. ~3.5%] to be married than male furries.
The average furry reported 1.7 siblings; of the ~85% with at least one, more "reported being the oldest child (47.5%) rather than the youngest child (34.5%), while 18.0% of furries reported that they were a middle child."
Furry education, interests, community feelings and culture
Approximately 75% of furries said they had or were attaining post-secondary education. Of those who had attained it, 27.9% chose a field "directly involving computers", 24.2% had picked an "art" (including writing), 11.9% picked a "science", and 11.9% (again) studied "engineering".
While both furries and non-furries had a variety of non-work interests, non-furries appeared less interested in MUCKs and roleplay, by about one point on a seven-point scale. Furries were across the board when considering whether they were artists or writers, though they appeared to have a firmer view as to whether they were completely (16% vs. 11%) or absolutely not (21% vs. 17%) artists, as compared to writers.
When asked to rank elements of "furry culture", participants favoured art, community, acceptance, internet groups and conventions, each scoring six or more on a seven point scale. Drama (3.0), sex (3.5), gaming (4.0) and music (4.1) all scored relatively low. Most surveyed thought there was a difference between a 'furry' and a 'furry fan', typically focusing on the degree of time/monetary involvement, or "creators" vs. "consumers".
While only about 13% of furries and therians owned a full fursuit, over 45% of furries and otherkin and almost 60% of therians indicated a wish to do so. Similarly, ~25% of all three groups owned a partial fursuit, but 40% of furries, 30% of otherkin and 47% of therians planned to get one. 70% owned paraphernalia such as ears or tails, with almost none ruling it out for later (compared to ~10% for partials, 10-20% for full fursuits).
Furries, therians and otherkin all had generally positive feelings about artists, writers, musicians, fursuiters and gamers. But furries were only marginally positive towards therians and otherkin, were slightly negative towards fetishists when other groups were slightly positive, and appeared more negative towards vampires and babyfurs. All groups felt strongly negative with respect to Nazi furs.
Means of furry interaction
Most furry interactions are online; 35% have never attended a local furmeet, and another 35% only do so once or a few times a year, while 25% have never attended a convention and most of the rest either do so infrequently or make it a yearly occurrence. ~20% go to several cons a year. (Note that 45% of participants were at a convention.)
Online, 45% of furries interact with other furs over instant messengers several times a day, with 70% doing so at least once a week. Use of forums and message boards appeared slightly less regular, though over 80% used them at least monthly. About 40% used virtual environments such as IMVU or Second Life, although for 10% their use was only a few times a year, and for another 6-8% it was less frequent than weekly.
'Non-furries' included in the survey were present at Anthrocon 2011, or chose to fill out a furry-oriented survey, so may not be a perfect control group.