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Anthrocon 2009 psychological survey team releases preliminary results

Edited as of Sun 4 Oct 2015 - 15:12
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Preliminary results have been released for a psychological survey taken at Anthrocon 2009 this July.[1][2][3][4][5] The survey team was led by Dr. Kathy Gerbasi, a social psychologist and anthrozoologist at the Niagara County Community College, and supervised by the Kent State University Institutional Review Board.

The team has run surveys at Anthrocon since 2006, covering topics such as connections with other species, species dysphoria and gender identity disorder, happiness and social rejection, transliminality, the essential characteristics of being a furry, and the reasons furry fans wear (or do not wear) fursuits.[6] Many topics were chosen to address prevalent stereotypes. The first portion of their work was published in the academic journal Society and Animals in 2008.[7][8]

This year's survey focussed on determining sociability, empathy, sex role identification, and social desirability.[9] There were 275 participants; fewer than in previous years due to IRB restrictions intended to prevent distribution of forms to minors.[10]

Four gift certificates were awarded to randomly-picked participants, and the team donated $100 to the convention's charity.[10][11] Each participant also received a ribbon, though due to constraints on the identification of subjects, those giving the survey were not permitted to suggest that attendees place them on their conbadges.

Some attendees were concerned by the survey's use of the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ), in part because they felt it was a poor test.[12] During the on-site debriefing, the survey team defended their use of such standardized tests, stating that their research would be disregarded if it did not use tests already accepted as valid by the academic community.

Summary of results

This summary was prepared by WikiFur editors, and covers research which has not yet been peer-reviewed or published. See the sources for full details and caveats.

Survey respondents consisted of 206 furry males, 34 furry females, 18 non-furry males and 8 non-furry females.[1] There were no significant differences between furries and non-furries on demographic factors such as employment, education or political views. The mean furry respondent age was 25.3, while for non-furries it was 30.4.[1]

Empathy, social desirability, masculinity/femininity and behavior

Furries scored significantly higher than non-furries on the fantasy and empathic concern sub-scales of the Interpersonal Reactivity Index.[13][2] The difference between furries and non-furries for empathic concern was very significant, at a 0.001 p-value.[3] Females also scored significantly higher than males on fantasy.[3] No significant differences were found for any group in the areas of personal distress or perspective-taking.[3]

There was no significant difference between furries and non-furries or males and females on a measure of social desirability (the Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scale/Personal Reaction Inventory),[3] or in group averages between males and females or furries and non-furries on a measure of masculinity (the Bem Sex Role Inventory).[4] However, furries did score significantly higher than non-furries on femininity, and were also more likely to measure as androgynous.[4] Male furries were significantly (if slightly) underrepresented in the high masculinity, low femininity group relative to non-furry males; conversely, non-furry males were underrepresented in other groups.[4]

No significant difference was found between furries and non-furries in the sub-scales of the Autism Spectrum Quotient relating to social behaviors, attention switching, or imagination.[5] Differences in communication and attention to detail were hinted at, but did not reach the level of statistical significance.[5] When summed using the original scoring system (merging "strong agree/disagree" responses with normal "agree/disagree") the group mean score for furry respondents was slightly higher (less social) than for non-furries, though both were within the "average" range for the test.[5] When summed separately on a 1-4 scale, no statistically significant difference was found.[5]

Identity and sexual orientation[1]

23% of respondents considered themselves "less than 100% human", and would choose to be "0% human", while 42% gave opposite responses. These results were similar to those in previous studies. 22% said they would like to be 0% human but didn't feel less than 100% human, and 12% said they were less than 100% human, but would not like to be 0% human. When asked if they considered themselves more than 100% human, 32% of male and 27% of female respondents agreed.

Of the 121 males and females who said they would like to be 0% human, only 44 (36%) said they would like to be non-human all of the time.

When asked if a furry could choose not to be furry, furries tended to say yes (Yes: 126, No: 53), while non-furs tended not to say no (Yes: 12, No: 1). The difference between furs (67 of 246; 27%) and non-furs (13 of 26; 50%) who said they did not know was also significant.

Sexual orientation of furry respondents
Kinsey scale 0 1 2 3 4 5 6
Female furries 8 5 9 8 0 0 0
Male furries 28 29 20 32 17 32 45

The proportion of females identifying as therians (24%), otherkin (10%) and lycanthropes (12%) was higher than that of males (11%, 6%, 5%), though no measure of significance was given, and the number of reporting females was small. For each group, for both males and females, more reported not knowing what a lycanthrope/otherkin/therian was than identified as one.

There was a significant difference between the reported sexual orientation of male and female furries. Males were distributed across the whole Kinsey scale, while females were either heterosexual or bisexual; none reported homosexuality. About 40% of responding furries indicated a different sexual orientation when in their furry identity as compared to their non-furry identity.


" The main purpose of using the IRI was to address the stereotype that furries are socially challenged. The thinking was, that if the stereotype were true then they might score lower on the IRI than other folks. The comparison between furries and non-furries in our sample does not support this. --Dr. Kathy Gerbasi[3] "
" ...the fact that i come to AC to meet folks, look at, and purchase art and have a good time, does not mean that i have a social disorder because i like humanized animals. --  whitetaildeer[12] "


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Furry survey 2009 results at last...part one -   drg_kcgerbasi (August 24-27, 2009)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Part two
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Part three
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Part four
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Part five
  6. Debriefing long form...more details -   drg_kcgerbasi (July 4, 2008)
  7. Furries from A to Z (Anthropomorphism to Zoomorphism) -   drg_kcgerbasi (October 6, 2007)
  8. Furries from A to Z (Anthropomorphism to Zoomorphism) (backup) - Gerbasi, Kathleen C.; Paolone, Nicholas; Higner, Justin; Scaletta, Laura L.; Bernstein, Penny L.; Conway, Samuel; Privitera, Adam - Society and Animals, Volume 16, Number 3, 2008, pp. 197-222
  9. Furry Survey 2009 Approved Debriefing Script -   drg_kcgerbasi (July 10, 2009)
  10. 10.0 10.1 Furry Survey 2009 Anthrocon Panel -   drg_kcgerbasi (July 10, 2009)
  11. Anthrocon 2009 Charity Auction/Raffle Followup - Rigel,   anthrocon (July 6, 2009)
  12. 12.0 12.1 Serious Question - Whitetail Deer,   anthrocon (July 7, 2009)
  13. Discussion of the Interpersonal Reactivity Index

Further reading


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