ARP survey: Furries vs. fursonas, therians, non-furs & artists
Fursonas get furs "closer to norms"; unlike therians, most furs don't want to be "0% human".
Researchers confirmed past survey results, while investigating:
- personality differences between non-furs, furs and fursonas
- furries' impressions of non-furry perceptions of the fandom
- whether furs felt their fandom was distinct from anime
- whether furries felt entitled towards content creators
- whether certain fan activities were healthy or unhealthy
- levels of pet ownership, vegetarianism, and association with animal rights causes
- reasons for male-domination of and stigma towards the fandom
- other differences between furries, non-furries and therians
The 32-country survey covered 1,098 adults (951 furs, 104 non-furs); 152 were therians.
Furries and their fursonas; personality differences, sexuality and fantasy
Personality-wise, the survey highlighted very significant differences between furries and their fursonas:
These traits tended towards established norms, although when it came to comparing with non-furries, the only difference was that furries were less extraverted than non-furries (while their fursonas were more extraverted than both non-furries and the norm). The researchers suggested that fursonas might be a means for furries to "[ameliorate/change] an aspect of their personality to be more 'normal'/less deviant".
Past findings regarding sexuality were repeated; furries were roughly "half as likely as non-furries to be exclusively heterosexual and are about twice as likely as non-furries to be exclusively homosexual or bisexual", with fursonas more likely to be bisexual than their owners. 11.5% of fursonas were reported to be pansexual (vs. 8.1% of furries); 4.7% reported asexuality, and the same amount said their fursonas were asexual.
As seen before, female furs were "particularly likely to be in a relationship"; the team thought this might indicate how they joined the fandom.
Specifically, being "more furry" was related to greater engagement in magical thinking, more childhood (and current) fantasy experiences, greater perspective-taking and empathy and more engagement in furry-related fantasy activity.
Furries distinguished between identifying: a) as a furry, b) with other furries, and c) as part of furry fandom, though all three were correlated.
Distinguishing between furries and therians
In some ways, therians appear as a more dedicated form of furry fan. As previous surveys suggested, therians identified more with furries than furries as a whole did. They reported a greater identification with being a furry than furries in general, and said furry was a more important to their self-definition. Therians who considered themselves furry had done so for significantly longer than furries in general (8.67 years vs. 7.65). They also considered themselves a furry at an earlier age (15.6 vs. 17.1) and had joined the furry community at an earlier age (18.3 vs. 19.2).
While around 80% of furries agreed to some extent that they "strongly identified" with being a furry (~32% strongly agreed), "therians, as a group, tend to identify with being a furry moreso than furries" (~55% strongly agreed). Therians also had less variation in their level of identification – suggesting that the "casual" vs. "lifestyle" distinction common for furries did not apply to them.
Predictably, therians identified more closely with their species than furries; also, furries identified with fewer species than therians (3.09 vs. 3.64). Therians were "significantly more likely than non-therians to experience a gender identity that differed from their biological identity."
Most non-therian furs did not wish to be "0% human", though they were twice as likely as non-furs to want it (39.2% vs. 18.2%). Conversely, 58.6% of therians expressed this wish. Most therians (~85%) considered themselves less than 100% human, unlike non-furs and non-therian furs (28% and 35%). 30% of therians in this sub-group felt they were physically non-human, vs. 11% and 13% for non-furs and non-therian furs.
In sum, it is not accurate to characterize furries as "people who do not think they are human" [... or] as people who, while not feeling inhuman, wish they could be: only about 40% of furries would be 0% human if they could.
Despite the presence of species stereotypes and species-centric meet-up sessions at conventions, both furries and therians tended to disagree with the idea that the species of another's fursona predicted whether they would get along. However, furries tentatively agreed that it told you something about them, while therians gave this significantly more weight.
14.5% of participants identified as therians, and 11.9% as otherkin (in both cases, around 25% of those surveyed were ignorant of these terms). 94.7% of therians and 89.6% of otherkin also identified as furries; 36.2% of therians identified as otherkin, and 5% of the sample were all three.
Perceptions of prejudice towards and lack of knowledge of furries by non-furries; distinction from related fandoms
While non-furries who took the survey did not have a particularly negative opinion of furries,
[...] the "more furry" a participant was, the more socially acceptable they said it was to be a furry, the more they felt non-furries were prejudiced against furries and the more they agreed that they were treated worse when people learned that they were a furry.
Participants saw average Americans as "much more likely to know what anime was than what furries were", and thought that anime fans had less of a stigma towards furries than the average non-fur.
The "more furry" a person was, and the more they considered membership in furry fandom to be based on essential characteristics, the more they perceived furry fandom as distinct from anime fandom. Conversely, furs also identifying as anime fans felt furry fandom was less distinct.
Researchers suggested that furries sought "a clear sense of identity", and proposed investigating whether furs had negative opinions of bronies on the basis that this group encroaches upon furry territory.
Vegetarianism, animal rights, pet ownership and relations with artists
Neither furries nor therians were significantly more likely to be (or have been) vegetarians than non-furries, and furries did not show concern over "eating of animals or animal products". Therians were significantly more likely than furries to support animal rights (94% vs. 83%) and to identify as animal-rights activists (19% v. 7%); there was no significant difference here between furries and non-furries. Therians were also more concerned over animal rights issues than furries, although furries strongly agreed with concerns about "displacing animals for land use, the use of animals in laboratory research, pain and suffering in animals, wearing of animal fur, and cosmetics testing on animals".
There was no significant difference in the state of pet ownership between furries (68%) and therians (78%), though therians owned significantly more pets (3.65 vs. 2.72). Roughly equal numbers of furries kept cats and dogs (13.5% vs. 13.6%); other pets were at 2% or below.
While many artists have horror stories about fans with unreasonable expectations, most fans did not did not agree with statements that would indicate a sense of entitlement towards content creators. Respondents distinguished sharply between expecting special treatment from favourite artists (1.62 on a 1–7 disapprove/approve scale), or going above and beyond to fulfil requests vs. simply replying to email (4.46) and listening to suggestions from fans. About 30% of furries agreed that they would report sub-par work by an artist (20% neither agreed nor disagreed).